Nikkei rises to near 1-month high after Japan GDP; Takata dives
* Inventory, capital spending remain weak spots - analyst * Askul soars on share buyback, tie-up with Yahoo Japan By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, May 20 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose to a near one-month high on Wednesday morning after better-than-expected economic growth buoyed sentiment, while Takata Corp tumbled after doubling a recall of air bags in the United States. Japan's economy grew at a 2.4 percent annualised rate in the January-March period, its fastest pace in a year, data showed. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to 20,175.84 in mid-morning trade after climbing to 20,207.10, the highest level since April 23, when it hit a new 15-year high. While most investors took heart from the overall GDP data, some warned of modest weakness in capital expenditure. "Headlines are nice, but if you look at the content carefully, there are weak spots," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, citing capital spending and inventory. Looking forward, he said that if companies become more aggressive backed by their upbeat earnings, some improvement may be seen in corporate spending in the next quarter. Private consumption, which accounts for roughly 60 percent of GDP, rose 0.4 percent, matching the gain in October-December. Capital spending grew 0.4 percent, less than an expected 0.8 percent gain, the data showed. Also supporting the mood was a comment from a European Central Bank policymaker who said it would front-load an asset purchase scheme aimed at boosting the euro economy. Nomura Holdings rose as high as 2.8 percent after saying it would buy back up to 25 million of its own shares, or 0.7 percent shares outstanding, worth up to 20 billion yen. Askul Corp soared 14 percent and was the third biggest percentage gainer after announcing a share buyback and saying that it would tie up with Yahoo Japan Corp on e-commerce business. Bucking the strength, Takata shares slumped 12 percent to more than a one-month low after U.S. safety regulators said the company was doubling a recall of potentially deadly air bags to nearly 34 million vehicles, the largest automotive recall in American history. Exporters were in demand, with Toyota Motor Corp rising 0.9 percent, Canon Inc gaining 1.4 percent and Tokyo Electron Ltd climbing 1.3 percent. The broader Topix gained 0.5 percent to 1,641.62 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.5 percent to 14,840.36. (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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