Nikkei turns up on report Abe moving to call election
(Adding factors pushing up market in afternoon) * Jiji report quoting LDP Oshima as saying Abe appears to have decided to call election lifts mood * Takata jumps on Reuters report of changes to air bags * Third quarter GDP figures due Monday in focus By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Nov 13(Reuters) - Japanese stocks rose on Thursday afternoon as investors lapped up a media report that said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to have decided to call an early election amid mounting expectations he would postpone a planned sales tax hike. The report from Jiji news agency was the latest in a spate of shifting speculation that has kept markets rapt this week. The Nikkei benchmark was up 0.7 percent at 17,322.10 in mid-afternoon trade, after holding flat in the morning session. Jiji reported that Tadamori Oshima, a former deputy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said Abe appears to have made a decision to call an election. "As the Nikkei has risen above 17,000 and while most investors believe that Abe will call for a snap election, headlines suggesting the opposite could trigger profit-taking and vice versa," said Kyoya Okazawa, head of global equities and commodity derivatives at BNP Paribas, said Investors had taken a breather in early trade after a buying frenzy in the previous two sessions, led by expectations Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to delay a second rise in the sales tax in an attempt to keep Japan's sluggish recovery on track. "I think the mood in the market is that now we just have to wait until Nov 17," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho Securities, referring to Monday's release of third-quarter GDP figures, which could influence Abe's decision on the tax and possibility of calling a snap election. Japan's economy likely expanded at a more muted pace than expected in the July-September period, after a sales tax hike in April sent the economy into its biggest slump since the global financial crisis in the second quarter. Amid growing concern over its likely negative impact on domestic consumption, Japanese firms overwhelmingly support a delay to the second tax increase, slated for next October. [ID: nL3N0T06QV]. Meanwhile, there was muted reaction to a batch of China data, with industrial output and retail sales coming in lower than forecasts. Individual movers include Takata Corp, which gained 2.2 percent after an official told Reuters it had altered the recipe of an air bag propellant that's been at the centre of a recall of millions of cars worldwide. Market heavyweight Softbank advanced 2.3 percent, boosted by expectations of a delay to the sales tax hike. The Topix rose 0.6 percent to 1,385.75, and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 0.6 percent to 12,659.35. (Additional reporting by Thomas Wilson; Editing by Kim Coghill & Shri Navaratnam)
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