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Nikkei hits 4-1/2-month high on Japan-U.S. trade optimism, upbeat China data


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* Japan-U.S. trade talk hopes lift automakers

* SoftBank Group falls on U.S. concerns over T-Mobile-Sprintdeal

* Komatsu, Hitachi Construction rise on upbeat China data

TOKYO, April 17 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei advanced to a4-1/2-month high on Wednesday as automakers rallied on hopes ofprogress in Japan-U.S. trade talks, while companies with largeexposure to China gained on upbeat Chinese economic data.

The Nikkei share average .N225 ended up 0.3 percent at22,277.97, its highest closing level since early December.

Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Tuesday that nodeal had been reached on individual trade issues after two daysof talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, butMotegi hoped for a good result "at an early stage." urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N21Y4SS

The news lifted shares of automakers facing the threat ofhigher U.S. tariffs on Japanese auto exports, traders said.

Toyota Motor Corp7203.T rose 2.0 percent, Honda Motor Co7267.T added 1.0 percent and Mazda Motor Corp7261.T soared2.5 percent.

"There was a possibility that the issue would be brought tothe table, so the market seems to be relieved," said RyoheiYoshida, senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

Strong economic data in China added to the positivesentiment on Japanese stocks.

China's economy grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter from ayear earlier, data showed on Wednesday, defying expectations fora further slowdown.

Industrial output also grew 8.5 percent in March from a yearearlier, the fastest pace since July 2014, as factories rampedup production in anticipation of more business amid governmentmeasures to support the economy. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N21Z0OK

The data sparked gains in construction-related firms withexposure to China.

Construction equipment makers Komatsu Ltd6301.T jumped1.9 percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery6305.T advanced1.3 percent, while industrial machinery maker Yaskawa Electric6506.T soared 3.3 percent.

Declining stocks included index-heavyweight SoftBank GroupCorp 9984.T , down 1.5 percent on news that the U.S. JusticeDepartment has concerns about the structure of a proposed $26billion merger of T-Mobile US IncTMUS.O and SoftBank's SprintCorp S.N . urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N21Y4JN

SoftBank, which has a big impact on the Nikkei benchmarkindex, took 20 points off the index.

Elsewhere, Omron Corp6645.T rallied 4.3 percent afterNidec Corp 6594.T said it would buy Omron's automotiveelectronics unit for about 100 billion yen. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N21Y21A

The broader Topix .TOPX rose 0.3 percent to 1,630.68. (Reporting by Ayai TomisawaEditing by Shri Navaratnam) ((ayai.tomisawa@thomsonreuters.com; 81-3-6441-1875; ReutersMessaging: ayai.tomisawa.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))






This article appears in: Politics , Stocks , Economy , World Markets




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