Nikkei rises to 2-week high on upbeat U.S. data; Skymark shines
* Skymark soars on report that AirAsia is considering aid * Daikin jumps on Credit Suisse's rating hike By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose to a two-week high on Tuesday as strong U.S. housing data buoyed sentiment, while the weaker yen lifted risk appetite in such index-heavy stocks and exporters as SoftBank Corp and Panasonic Corp. Also helping the mood were receding tensions in Ukraine, after Russia said on Monday all objections to it sending a humanitarian convoy to Ukraine had been resolved. The Nikkei rose 0.8 percent to 15,443.38 points in mid-morning trade, after rising as high as 15,476.05, the highest since Aug. 5. Skymark Airlines Inc soared 28 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that Malaysia-based AirAsia is considering options for aid to Skymark, seeking control of Japan's third-largest domestic carrier, citing people familiar with the matter. "Confidence is back as we've got strong U.S. shares and upbeat data from the U.S.," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities. He said that investors were also closely focused on this week's annual meeting of top central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. On Monday, U.S. shares surged, with the Nasdaq closing at a 14-year high, after the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index showed that homebuilder sentiment rose for the third straight month in August. SoftBank soared 2.1 percent, Panasonic rose 0.8 percent, and another index-heavy stock Fanuc Corp added 1.5 percent. The dollar was at 102.61 yen, having maintained its slow rebound from a low of 101.51 hit on Aug 8. Air conditioner maker Daikin Industries Ltd jumped 3.5 percent after Credit Suisse hiked its rating to "outperform" from "neutral", citing likely strong growth in its environmentally friendly products in emerging markets. The broader Topix gained 0.5 percent to 1,277.76, and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.5 percent to 11,626.94. (Editing by Kim Coghill)
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