June 2, 2017 / 2:26 AM / a year ago

Nikkei rises above 20,000 to hit nearly 2-year high on upbeat U.S. data

* Nikkei breaks 20,000 for first time since Dec 2015

* Financials, exporters in demand

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, June 2 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average broke through the 20,000-point barrier for the first time since December 2015 on Friday after a batch of strong U.S. economic data lifted Wall Street and the U.S. currency against the yen.

The Nikkei swept through 20,000 in early trade making a 1.3 percent advance to 20,115.23, its highest level since August 2015. The index was poised to post weekly gains of 2.1 percent.

The threshold of “20,000 is a big technical and psychological level for traders, so we should be not be surprised if we see some resistance at this level,” said Gavin Parry, managing director at Parry International Trading Ltd.

Traders added that when there is a recovery seen in the global environment, there is a greater focus on Japan Inc. earnings which saw profit growth of 16 percent in the fiscal year through March.

“Japanese stocks would have risen to this level earlier if we did not see global risks and the rising yen,” said Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

But U.S. political turmoil could unnerve investors next week again, Fujito said, as former FBI Director James Comey will testify next Thursday before a U.S. Senate panel investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, in a hearing that could add to difficulties facing President Donald Trump.

“The market is worried that the allegations against Trump over his interference with a federal investigation would delay his efforts on tax cuts and economic policy,” Fujito said, adding that there is also a risk that the dollar will fall against the yen, hurting Japanese stocks.

Cyclical sectors were pushed up by recovering risk appetites, with financials and exporters outperforming. Nomura Holdings jumped 4.7 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group soared 3.1 percent, while insurer T&D Holdings surged 3.6 percent. Subaru Corp added 3.3 percent and Kyocera Corp advanced 2.7 percent.

The dollar gained 0.2 percent at 111.560 yen after rising to 111.580, its highest since May 26.

The broader Topix advanced 1.1 percent to 1,603.08 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 1.1 percent to 14,303.65. (Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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