* Murata, TDK soar after Apple’s strong earnings
* Honda surges after company raises FY profit outlook
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average rose to a 1-1/2-week high on Wednesday, supported by strong domestic earnings as well as a rally among Apple’s suppliers after the iPhone maker reported robust profits.
The Nikkei ended 0.5 percent higher at 20,080.04, its highest closing level since July 21.
Apple suppliers soared, with Murata Manufacturing rising 4.9 percent, Taiyo Yuden rising 4.4 percent and TDK Corp gaining 2.8 percent after Apple delivered surprisingly strong third-quarter earnings and signalled that its upcoming 10th-anniversary iPhone lineup is on schedule.
Honda Motor Co gained 2.8 percent after Japan’s No.3 automaker raised its full-year operating profit forecast thanks to solid demand in Asia.
While Japanese stocks have been supported by strong earnings, some traders expect the Nikkei to continue to hover around the 20,000 mark as investors have grown cautious about the risk of a further rise in the yen.
“So far, companies are reporting better-than-expected results, but such positive catalysts are offset by worries about a strong yen,” said Toru Ibayashi, executive director of Wealth Management at UBS Securities in Tokyo.
“When the Nikkei is trading in a narrow range, retail investors are buying when the index is in the lower level in the range. Foreign investors would have chased the market higher if the yen weakened, but that’s not happening right now.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the dollar was 0.3 percent higher at 110.75 yen, after it touched a nearly seven-week low of 109.920 yen overnight.
The dollar has been weighed down by political turmoil gripping Washington and largely uninspiring U.S. economic data, which is adding to uncertainty about the pace of future U.S. Federal Reserve policy tightening.
Mining stocks underperformed after oil prices fell, with rising U.S. fuel inventories pulling U.S. crude back below $50 per barrel.
Inpex Corp and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co both shed 0.5 percent.
The broader Topix advanced 0.4 percent to 1,634.38 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.3 percent to 14,540.00. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Lisa Twaronite)