Nikkei rises to fresh 6-month high led by exporters, banks
* Nikkei rises for a 5th day * Foreigners buy banks and exporters - fund manager * Nintendo dives after dismal earnings By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, July 31 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose to a fresh six-month high on Thursday after solid U.S. growth buoyed sentiment and as the weakening yen lifted exporters, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group's earnings boosted the banking sector. Bucking the strength, Nintendo Co dived 6.3 percent to a seven-week low after the video game maker posted a worse-than-expected operating loss in the April-June quarter. The Nikkei rose 0.7 percent to 15,759.66 points in mid-morning trade, the highest since Jan. 23. The Nikkei has gained for the five straight sessions. Investors took heart after the U.S. economy rebounded more sharply than expected in the second quarter, with gross domestic product expanding at a 4.0 percent annualised pace. The dollar climbed to a four-month high of 103.15 yen after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised its assessment of the U.S. economy while reiterating it is in no hurry to increase interest rates. The dollar last traded at 102.80 yen. "Japanese market is benefiting from a few positive factors," said Takatoshi Itoshima, chief portfolio manager at Commons Asset Management. "The yen is weak and earnings are not bad." He added that foreigners are particularly buying major banks and exporters. Toyota Motor Corp rose 0.8 percent, Nikon Corp added 1.1 percent and Panasonic Corp gained 1.2 percent. A weak yen lifts Japanese exporters' overseas profits when repatriated as well as their competitiveness abroad. SMFG jumped 2.7 percent despite a 20 percent fall in its April-June profits, but analysts had priced in the decline in profits due to the value of stock holdings paled in comparison with the previous year, when the market rose 57 percent. Analysts said that the result was positive as the bank is making a solid progress towards its annual forecast. Mizuho Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, which will report earnings after the market close on Thursday, rose 0.8 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. The broader Topix gained 0.6 percent to 1,299.38, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.5 percent to 11,829.10. (Editing by Kim Coghill)
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