CORRECTED-Nikkei choppy as market eyes Ukraine, Jackson Hole; Chugai jumps
(Corrects Topix in last paragraph to 1,270.35 from 15,332.46) * Chugai up 21 pct after remaining unopened for more than an hour * Investors focused on when Fed will hike interest rates - traders * Shippers outperform on rising freight charges By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei was choppy on Monday morning as geopolitical tensions checked risk appetite, but Chugai Pharmaceutical jumped on a media report that Roche Holding AG's may be close to sealing a deal to gain full ownership of the Japanese drugmaker. Chugai Pharmaceutical Co soared 21 percent to a record high as Bloomberg News last Friday reported that Roche is in talks to buy the almost 40 percent stake in the Japanese company that it does not already own for about $10 billion. Chugai denied the report over the weekend. The Nikkei was flat at 15,319.23 in a volatile mid-morning session after booking a 3.7 percent gain last week, the biggest weekly rise since mid-April. The Nikkei has lost almost 3 percent from a six-month high of 15,759.66 posted 2-1/2 weeks ago. Investors were cautious as the four-month conflict in Ukraine reached a critical phase over the weekend - Kiev and Western governments are nervously watching if Russia will intervene in support of the increasingly besieged rebels in eastern Ukraine. Global markets are also closely focused on this week's annual meeting of top central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. "We are not expecting a surprise to come out, but since top policymakers are gathering, we can expect some clues about the U.S. economy," said Takatoshi Itoshima, chief portfolio manager at Commons Asset Management. He said investors have been watching closely for signs of when the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates. The spotlight will be on Janet Yellen, who will speak on Friday in her first appearance at Jackson Hole as Fed chair. Shippers outperformed after the Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, rose on Friday thanks to higher rates for bigger vessels. Mitsui OSK Lines gained 0.5 percent and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha soared 2.2 percent. Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp falling 0.4 percent, Panasonic Corp adding 0.3 percent and Honda Motor Co shedding 0.1 percent. The broader Topix was flat at 1,270.35, and the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 was also flat at 11,562.40. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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