CORRECTED-Nikkei ekes out gains, may extend winning streak to 11th day
(Corrects fourth paragraph to say Nikkei has gained 5.6 percent so far in May, not in June) * Nikkei may extend rally into 11th day, longest since 1988 * Market looks set to log fifth straight month of gains * Power, gas companies one of the best performer this month * Yahoo Japan jumps on China business plan By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, May 29 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average edged up on Friday on hopes of better shareholder returns, looking set to extend its winning streak to 11 straight sessions and its fifth straight month of gains. The Nikkei average rose 0.3 percent to 20,605.68 points by midday, hitting a 15-year high. If it closes up on the day, it would mark the longest winning streak since February 1988. It has gained 1.7 percent on the week so far and 5.6 percent in May. "Everybody is cautious because the market could see a correction any moment. Nonetheless, the market is really firm," said Toshiyuki Kanayama, market analyst at Monex Securities. The broader Topix rose 0.2 percent to 1,675.66, having risen 5.2 percent so far this month. Traders say foreign investors have been buying Japanese stocks, which have outperformed many of their peers in the developed world. U.S. S&P500 rose 1.7 percent so far this month. The rally in Japanese has been driven by improvements, both realised and expected, in Japanese companies' shareholder return, as well as optimism on the Japanese economy. Nabtesco rose 4.1 percent after the company said it will buy back 3.4 percent of its outstanding shares. Mizuho Financial has risen 17.9 percent so far this month, despite its 0.5 percent fall on Friday morning, helped by hopes it may announce share buyback. Electric power and gas companies, another strong performer this month, rose 0.5 percent on Friday, extending their monthly gains to 11.5 percent. They have been helped by the inclusion of a few power companies to smart beta indexes -- a new type of stock strategy indexes based on themes such as low volatility shares. Power companies have been also helped by hopes that some of nuclear power plants will be restarted later this year. But Kyushu Electric Power hit a snag on Friday, after a volcanic eruption in southern Japan raised worries the company's plan to re-start a nuclear power plant may be derailed. Although its Sendai plant is 160 km away from the volcano, critics have said the plant's proximity to other volcanos is a risk. Its shares were down 0.1 percent on Friday, having erased earlier gains. Elsewhere Yahoo Japan rose 8.8 percent following report by the Nikkei news that the web portal company will team up with Chinese net shopping giant Alibaba to expand in Chinese market. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 0.2 percent to 15,142.99. (Editing by Kim Coghill)
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