Nikkei ends up as weak yen offers trade fear respite; SoftBank jumps

Reuters

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    * NT ratio hits the highest since March 1999
    * SoftBank adds hefty positive points to Nikkei
    * Lawson falls to 5-1/2-year low after Q1 earnings
disappoint
    * Eisai soars to hover at record high hit early this week

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, July 12 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei rebounded on
Thursday as a weaker yen offered a temporary respite to trade
war fears and lifted sentiment, while index-heavyweight SoftBank
soared after a source said a U.S. hedge fund took a $1 billion
stake in it.
    The Nikkei share average  .N225  ended 1.2 percent higher at
22,187.96, outperforming the broader Topix  .TOPX , which was up
0.5 percent at 1,709.68.
    The Nikkei's outperformance led the Nikkei versus Topix, the
so-called NT ratio  .NTIDX , to 12.99, the highest since March
1999.
    SoftBank Group  9984.T , the most traded stock by turnover,
jumped 6.4 percent, rising for 10 consecutive sessions after a
source told Reuters that U.S. hedge fund Tiger Global has built
a stake worth more than $1 billion in the company.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N1U757S
    The stock contributed a hefty positive 63 points to the
Nikkei.
    The dollar firmed 0.3 percent to 112.29 yen  JPY= , after
breaking through the 112-barrier for the first time since Jan.
10 after U.S. economic data reaffirmed expectations that the
Federal Reserve will hike interest rates two more times this
year.
    Although a weaker yen raised investors' risk appetite,
notable gainers were defensive stocks such as pharmaceuticals
and food companies.
    "Companies which have relatively little impact from the
global economic growth tend to attract buyers now as investors
are still very cautious against fears of trade tensions between
the U.S. and China," said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at
Daiwa Securities.
    Japanese stocks tumbled on Wednesday along with a slide in
global equities after U.S. President Donald Trump's threat of
imposing tariffs on another $200 billion of Chinese goods
deepened the trade row between the world's two largest
economies.
    Soy sauce maker Kikkoman Corp  2801.T  surged 3.5 percent
and brewery Asahi Group Holdings  2502.T  added 2.3 percent.
    Drugmaker Eisai Co  4523.T  jumped 8.0 percent to hover near
its record high hit earlier this week as investors continued to
take heart from last week's announcement from the company and
Biogen Inc  BIIB.O  that the final analysis of a mid-stage trial
of their Alzheimer's drug showed positive results for patients
who received the highest dose.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1U201E
    Meanwhile, convenience store operator Lawson Inc  2651.T 
fell as much as 3.3 percent to hit a 5-1/2-year low of 6,350 yen
before ending 1.4 percent lower after the company's operating
profit fell 22 percent on the year to 12.68 billion yen for the
first quarter ended May, hit by rising system costs.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nXB1EROGTI

 (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
 ((ayai.tomisawa@thomsonreuters.com; 81-3-6441-1875; Reuters
Messaging: ayai.tomisawa.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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