October 20, 2016 / 2:23 AM / 2 years ago

Nikkei rises to near 5-month high on strong U.S. stocks; market focuses on U.S. debate

* Market prices in Clinton victory

* Real estate sector attracts buying on recent strength in condo sales

* Mitsubishi Motors volatile

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average rose to a near five-month high on Thursday morning taking cues from rising U.S. stocks, while most investors are focused on the third U.S. presidential debate.

The Nikkei rose 0.9 percent to 17,156.32 in midmorning trade, after hitting as high as 17,167.91 earlier, the highest level since May 31.

Markets are watching Republican presidential nominee Donald trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton debate which started at 0100 GMT, while recent polls favour Clinton.

“The market has priced in a Clinton presidency, almost,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities. “But we all learned from the Brexit result that polls and opinions can be turned over at the last minute, so you never know what will happen until the actual election. We can’t be too optimistic.”

A total of 29 Topix subsectors are in positive territory, with real estate stocks and mining companies outperforming.

Mitsubishi Estate surged 4.2 percent, while Mitsui Fudosan jumped 5.3 percent, taking cues from recent better-than-expected September condominium sales in the Tokyo Metropolitan area.

Inpex Corp rose 1.1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co added 1.3 percent after oil prices jumped more than 2 percent overnight, before falling on profit-taking in Asian trade on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motor Corp, which surged 7.9 percent on Wednesday on hopes that Nissan Motor Co Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn will chair Mitsubishi Motors, was volatile. It opened lower on Thursday after forecasting a loss for the year ending March, but the stock later jumped as much as 4.4 percent before trimming the gains to trade up 0.2 percent at 0210 GMT.

Traders said that investors took heart from views that Ghosn, who rescued floundering Nissan in 1999, can help turn around Mitsubishi Motors’ business.

The broader Topix gained 0.7 percent to 1,366.77 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.7 percent to 12,233.16.

Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Eric Meijer

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