Nikkei advances on weaker yen; investors await earnings season
* Exporter stocks helped by weaker yen * Investors optimistic ahead of earnings season * Retail sales also in focus By Thomas Wilson TOKYO, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rose on Monday as a weaker yen boosted exporter shares and investors confidently awaited upcoming earnings announcements. The Nikkei share index gained 0.5 percent to 15,366.39 by 0044 GMT. "Japan's our top pick market to buy back as we head into earnings season," said Jonathan Garner, managing director of research at Morgan Stanley, citing yen weakness as a driver of profit growth. The Japanese currency traded against the dollar at 108.11 yen after touching a three-week low of 108.37, helping exporter shares. Canon Inc added 1.2 percent and Toyota Motor Corp rose 0.6 percent, while Panasonic Corp ticked up 0.8 percent. Investors also kept a close watch on the retail sector for indicators of consumer demand, with department and convenience store results seen as a key barometer of Japanese economic health. "The street's still looking for any bounce-back from the Q1 retail sales tax increase," said Gavin Parry, managing director of Parry International Trading in Hong Kong. Debate as to whether a planned second sales tax hike should go ahead has sharpened amid concern at its likely negative effect on Japan's already sluggish economy. A senior government official close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said over the weekend that the increase should be delayed by eighteen months to April 2017 to avoid derailing the fragile economic recovery. [ID: nL2N0SL04Y] April's hike badly hit personal spending, sending the economy into an unexpectedly deep annualised contraction and undermining faith in the premier's signature 'Abenomics' economic policies. Outpacing the market was Fujifilm Holdings Corp., which added 2.9 percent after media reported that a subsidiary that makes Avigan, seen as a potential cure for Ebola, is to acquire a U.S. vaccine contract manufacturing firm. The broader Topix added 0.6 percent to 1,250.25, while the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also gained 0.6 percent to 11,378.94. (Reporting by Thomas Wilson; Editing by Eric Meijer)
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