* Toshiba jumps on report it is asking lenders for more loans
* Bank stocks soared as risk appetite returns
* Nikkei’s 25-day moving average is on the rise
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, March 3 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average rose to a fresh three-week high on Thursday morning as investors’ risk appetite was boosted by an upbeat data on U.S. jobs and a rise in oil prices.
Outperforming the strong market was Toshiba Corp, which jumped 10 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that the company is asking three key Japanese lenders for additional loans of up to $2.2 billion.
The Nikkei gained 1.0 percent to 16,910.10 in midmorning trade after opening slightly lower.
The improvement in the U.S. private sector suggested solid job growth despite market turmoil and worries about a slowing global economy.
Helping the mood, oil prices ended up for a third straight day on Wednesday as buyers shrugged off record high U.S. crude stockpiles to focus on an OPEC plan to freeze production. On early Thursday, U.S. crude prices were steady.
“Value is starting to snap back and some sectors that pretty recently were hanging around all-time lows are showing signs of life,” said Nicholas Smith, a strategist at CLSA. “The general updraft in oil is helping confidence as well. Investors aren’t yet ready to take on a lot of risk, but they are adding to their positions.”
The Nikkei’s 25-day moving average stood at 16,450.17 as of Thursday, and has been on the rise for the past few days.
“The market seems to be taking the same recovery path as last year, when the market hit a low last summer after China devalued the yuan and recovered in the fall,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities. “Continuous recovery may depend on central bank policies but some investors are showing optimism.”
Sato said the market was closely watching the Bank of Japan it after shocked the market last month by introducing a negative interest rate policy, and for what the Fed will do with U.S. rates after the jobs report comes out on Friday.
Recently-battered banks gained ground, with the banking sector rising 5.8 percent to be the second-best performing sector on the board. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rose 7.3 percent, Mizuho Financial Group rose 5.9 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group was up by 7.1 percent.
The broader Topix gained 1.2 percent to 1,365.33 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 1.1 percent to 12,383.85. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Additional reporting by Joshua Hunt; Editing by Eric Meijer)