Nikkei rises to new 8-mth high as weak yen powers exporters; Sony dives
* U.S. recovery offsets weak confidence in Japan - analysts * Sony tumbles to 1-month low on loss estimate By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average soared to a new eight-month high on Thursday morning, with yen weakness giving exporters a boost amid further confirmation of a stronger U.S. economy. The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday renewed its pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a "considerable time" but indicated that it could raise borrowing costs faster than expected when it starts moving. It also confirmed its bond-buying programme will end next month. The dollar raced to a fresh six-year high of 108.69, lifting such exporters as Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co. The Nikkei share average rose 1.1 percent to 16,063.19 in mid-morning trade after climbing as high as 16,067.41, its highest since early January. "For the Japanese market, a rise in U.S. interest rates is positive, and the weak yen is serving as a tailwind to major exporters," said Hiromichi Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities, adding that the weak yen should be positive to Japanese manufacturers as far as 125 yen to the dollar. According to Nomura Securities, companies listed on the Topix are expected to post a total of 61.5 trillion yen ($580 billion) in operating profits for the year through March, and when the yen weakens by 1 yen against the dollar, it would lift the aggregate operating profits by 300 billion yen. However, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday morning that confidence at Japanese manufacturers fell the most in nearly two years in September as a tax increase hit the economy harder than expected. Analysts said that investors carefully continue to monitor Japanese economic data such as consumption, but for now, the impact from the weak yen offsets weak demand in such products as autos in the domestic market. "The FOMC outcome shows that the U.S. economy is recovering. We can expect that demand for Japanese products overseas will offset weak demand in Japan for now," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, strategist at Mizuho Securities. Toyota soared 1.6 percent, Honda surged 2.0 percent and Advantest Corp jumped 2.5 percent. Bucking the strength, Sony Corp tumbled 13 percent to a one-month low of 1,844 yen after it deepened its loss estimate and said it would not pay a dividend this fiscal year for the first time since it listed in 1958. "The stock price falling below 2,000 yen is overdone," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management. "If the company were to go through further restructuring, it needs cash, so from this perspective, it makes sense that the company is not paying dividends." He said that Sony was being bought recently on the company's restructuring plan to reduce payrolls and news reports on the company's plan to enter the automotive sensor market. The stock price may struggle until more details are out at its July-September earnings release. The broader Topix rose 1.1 percent to 1,318.73, and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 1.2 percent to 11,961.70. (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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