Nikkei extends gains, SoftBank jumps on Alibaba earnings
* Bargain hunting after heavy fall last week underpins Nikkei * Market faces headwind from Ukraine, wobbly U.S. momentum shares, doubts on BOJ policy * SoftBank jumps after Alibaba reports strong earnings By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, April 16 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose on Wednesday after a better performance on Wall Street overnight, with index heavyweight SoftBank soaring after a strong earnings report from its Chinese e-commerce affiliate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The Nikkei share average rose 1.8 percent to 14,246.65, extending its rebound from a six-month low around 13,885 hit earlier this month. The benchmark suffered its worst weekly performance in three years last week "There was a fear last week that the market is sinking with no bottom in sight. But such fears are ebbing as investors started to buy large cap shares that have cheap valuations," said Toshiyuki Kanayama, market analyst at Monex Securities. However, concerns over escalating tensions in Ukraine, a wobbly Wall Street and the absence of monetary easing from the Bank of Japan have conspired to limit broad market gains. A batch of Chinese economic data, due at 0200 GMT, will also be in focus as investors continue to fret about slowing growth in the world's second-biggest economy. On Tuesday, U.S. stocks ended a volatile session higher, lifted by gains in blue-chip firms though persistent weakness in momentum stocks limited the Nasdaq's advance. The early spotlight in Tokyo fell on SoftBank, which jumped 7.3 percent after Alibaba Group Holding IPO-ALIB.N, in which it has a 37 percent stake, reported solid revenue growth in the fourth quarter, ahead of a highly anticipated public offering. Bargain hunting also supported the market, reflecting the Nikkei's decline of more than 12 percent so far this year. Mining and metal companies with low price earnings ratio benefited. Nisshin Steel rose 4.3 percent on the day and has gained 10 percent in the past week. Receding expectations of imminent monetary easing by the Bank of Japan has been a drag on the market recently, with the central bank's massive stimulus last April helping the Nikkei surge 57 percent in 2013. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda reiterated his bullish view on the Japanese economy on Wednesday, following his comments earlier this month that quashed speculation of near-term stimulus to cushion the blow from a sales tax hike this month. The broader Topix rose 1.5 percent to 1,152.93, and the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 1.5 percent to 10,492.01. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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