REFILE-Nikkei rises to 3-wk high on China stimulus steps, solid U.S. data
(Refiles to fix second bullet and add missing word in 8th paragraph) * China stimulus steps lift construction machinery makers * Investor confidence on U.S. recovery returns - analyst * Sharp soars on strong smartphone panel demand report By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, April 3 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rose to three-week highs on Thursday morning, spurred by gains in construction equipment makers on news China is taking steps to stimulate its economy and on another set of solid data in the United States. The Nikkei gained 0.8 percent to 15,069.16, after touching a high of 15,086.73, its best mark since March 11. Construction equipment makers were big winners, soaring after the Chinese cabinet on Wednesday said it will support the economy by cutting taxes for small firms and announcing plans to speed up the construction of railway lines. Worries of a deepening slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy has been a drag on global risk assets in recent months. Komatsu Ltd surged 2.0 percent, and Hitachi Construction Machinery Co gained 1.2 percent. Industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp rose 1.1 percent. "The (China) announcement is lifting the mood because investment expansion such as infrastructure investment would pave the way for growth in consumption in the future," said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities. Sharp Corp outperformed, rising 3.1 percent and was the eighth most traded stock by turnover after the Nikkei reported that the company plans to raise China-bound shipments of energy-efficient IGZO liquid crystal display panels for smartphones to 5 million a month by year's end. Tokyo stocks were also supported by a strong night on Wall Street. On Wednesday, the S&P 500 closed at another record high thanks to upbeat private-sector jobs and factory orders data, indicating the economy has regained its poise after stuttering due to an unusually cold winter. "People's worries over the U.S. economic recovery are receding with the melting of the snow," said Jun Yunoki, a strategist at Nomura Securities. "They are regaining confidence, and gradually the Nikkei's 15,000 level will turn it to a support from resistance." Exporters benefited after the dollar rose to its highest in over two months at 103.94 yen. Honda Motor Co gained 1.4 percent, while Nissan Motor Co rose 0.6 percent. The broader Topix rose 0.6 percent to 1,218.76. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, a gauge comprised of companies with a high return on equity and robust corporate governance, added 0.7 percent to 11,041.86. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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