Nikkei choppy on mixed cues from global data; Rakuten falls on M&A news
* Investors cautious after mixed set of global data * SoftBank rises on news Alibaba's IPO price seen $60-$66/share * Rakuten falls on worries about recent hefty capital spending By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks were modestly higher in choppy early trade on Monday, as mixed signals from China trade numbers and soft Japanese and U.S. data checked investors' risk appetite. The Nikkei was up 0.2 percent at 15,695.02 for the mid-morning close, not too far from its seven-month high of 15,829.38 hit last week. Investors tracked gains in U.S. stocks on Friday after weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data was taken as a sign that the Federal Reserve may not begin raising interest rates soon. "The market is relieved that it looks like we are in a 'Goldilocks' state," said Takatoshi Itoshima, chief portfolio manager at Commons Asset Management. "It's not too hot or cold so the market is in a comfortable sweet spot." Meanwhile, revised Japanese GDP report showed the economy contracted more than initially expected. And in China, data showed export rose more than expected in August while imports unexpectedly fell, pushing the trade surplus to a record high for the second consecutive month. "The China data (strong exports, weak imports) shows that the global economy is recovering while the Chinese economy is showing a weaker-than-expected recovery," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities. "But the impact to the Japanese market is limited," as the dollar remains above 105 yen, which is beneficial for exporters' earnings, he said. Index heavy-weight SoftBank Corp, which has more than 30 percent stake in Alibaba, rose 2.4 percent and contributed a hefty 17 points to the Nikkei index on news that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd IPO-BABA.N expects to price its initial public offering between $60 and $66 a share. . Rakuten Inc dropped 4.0 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported that the Japanese online retailer is finalising a deal to buy U.S. rebate site operator Ebates for more than 100 billion yen ($951 million). Fund managers said that Rakuten's move to tap into overseas markets is seen as a positive, but some remain cautious about its aggressive investment strategy. "The company's basic direction on M&As is positive. But since the company has been very active about M&As, we are concerned about how soon it can make profit out of those investments," said a fund manager who owns Rakuten shares. Exporters pulled back after the dollar retreated to 105.20 yen from a six-year high of 105.71 marked on Friday. Toyota Motor Corp dropped 0.1 percent, Honda Motor Co <7267.T. shed 0.1 percent and Panasonic Corp declined 0.2 percent. The broader Topix rose 0.4 percent to 1,298.31, and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 0.3 percent to 11,770.33.
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