Nikkei bounces from 6-mth lows on strong U.S. retail sales, weak yen
* Nikkei sees technical rebound after rout last week * Exporters benefit from pullback in yen * Crisis in Ukraine limits gains By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, April 15 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rebounded from six-month lows on Tuesday morning after strong U.S. retail sales data helped calm nerves amid the backdrop of an escalating crisis in Ukraine. A pullback in the yen on revived risk appetite also underpinned the Nikkei share average, which rose 0.8 percent to 14,023.46 in mid-morning trade. The index shed 0.4 percent to 13,910.16 on Monday, the lowest closing level since Oct. 8. The improved mood in equities came after U.S. retail sales recorded their largest gain in 1-1/2 years in March, helping Wall Street bounce off recent lows. The Tokyo benchmark tumbled 7.3 percent last week, hurt by a rout in U.S. tech shares and doubts raised by Bank Of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda over whether the central bank will deliver fresh stimulus in the near term. It was the biggest weekly fall since the week after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Analysts said Japanese shares are enjoying a technical rebound due to their cheap valuations, but added that worries about Ukraine may check demand. "We saw the Nikkei dipping below the 14,000-mark and it was shocking, so we may not see a big drop further, but gains may be contained amid a lack of positive catalysts," said Hiromichi Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities. Japanese shares are trading at 12.5 times their expected earnings for the year ending March 2015, while U.S. shares trade 14.9 times their projected earnings, he said. On Tuesday, the market benefited from buying in index heavyweight stocks like SoftBank Corp and KDDI Corp , up 3.8 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. The dollar edged up to 101.93 yen, moving away from Friday's 3-1/2-week low of 101.32 yen on the back of the solid U.S. data. Exporters gained ground, with Hitachi Ltd adding 2.8 percent, while Sony Corp rose 0.9 percent. A weak yen lifts Japanese exporters' competitiveness abroad as well as their overseas earnings when repatriated. Geopolitical tensions wasn't far off the radar, after pro-Russian separatists ignored an ultimatum to leave occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine as a threatened military offensive by government forces failed to materialize. The Ukraine crisis has contributed to volatile trade in the past month. The broader Topix rose 0.4 percent to 1,136.97, and the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.4 percent to 10,358.70. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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