May 10, 2016 / 1:57 AM / 2 years ago

Nikkei rises to 1-1/2-week high helped by weak yen, but cuatious on earnings

* Market braces for more firms to forecast profit declines

* Takata tumbles to record low after govt instructs to inform of plans to expand recall

* Asahi Glass soars on strong 1Q profit

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, May 10 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average rose to a 1-1/2-week high on Tuesday after the yen weakened, but investors remained careful before major companies release full-year earnings and forecasts.

The Nikkei gained 1.2 percent to 16,412.88 by midmorning, the highest since Apr. 28.

But analysts said investors remain wary that the yen could firm again, and also are bracing for more companies to report declines in profits for this fiscal year.

“It will probably take a few months to price the bad news in, so the market is likely to stay weak for a while,” said Masashi Oda, general manager at strategic investment department at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.

“Investors would buy domestic-demand sensitive stocks which have little exposures to currency moves.”

He said that as of last week, about 300 companies reporting their earnings expected a 7.4 percent decline in profits this year.

“If the yen rises further, a decline in profits can grow to a double-digit level,” he said.

The dollar was steady against the yen around 108.29 after gaining nearly 1 percent on Monday and reaching a one-week high of 108.60. The yen soared to 1-1/2-year highs last week.

Exporters were in demand, with Toyota Motor Corp rising 0.8 percent, Honda Motor Co advancing 0.7 percent, while Nissan Motor Co gaining 2.1 percent.

Asahi Glass soared 8.5 percent after the glassmaker posted a 4.9 percent rise in its operating profit to 16.7 billion yen for the first quarter ended March, offsetting weak sales due to falling material prices and reduced costs.

Takata Corp tumbled as much as 8.8 percent to a record low of 310 yen after the transport minister instructed Takata and Japanese automakers to inform the government of their plans to expand a recall of potentially defective air bags by May 20.

Oil shares underperformed on sliding oil prices amid expectations that U.S. crude inventories would again build to record highs. Inpex Corp dropped 2.2 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co fell 1.7 percent.

The broader Topix gained 0.9 percent to 1,318.69 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.9 percent to 11,920.52. (Editing by Kim Coghill)

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