February 13, 2019 / 6:55 AM / 6 months ago

Nikkei nears 2-month high on U.S.-China trade hopes

* Mining sector top gainer, lifted by Inpex

* Volatility remains in market - analyst

* Japanese companies’ annual profit forecasts flat - Daiwa

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei rose to a near two-month high on Wednesday on optimism that Washington and Beijing may be nearing a deal to end their trade dispute.

The Nikkei share average surged 1.3 percent to 21,144.48 points, the highest closing level since Dec. 17.

The broader Topix gained 1.1 percent to 1,589.33.

Investors’ appetite for riskier assets improved after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he could see letting the March 1 deadline for reaching a trade agreement with China slide a little if the two sides were close to a complete deal.

The two sides are meeting in Beijing this week.

The escalating trade war and resulting disruptions in global supply chains have increasingly weighed on China’s export-reliant neighbours such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

An agreement in principle in Washington to avoid another government shutdown also helped sentiment, sending U.S. stocks higher overnight.

“Investors are taking heart from the positive note from Wall Street yesterday, but volatility could persist depending on more headlines,” said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities.

He also said the market has priced in Japanese quarterly earnings, with the season almost over.

According to Daiwa Securities, 152 out of 200 large companies that the brokerage covers, excluding SoftBank Group and other telecommunication firms, have reported a 1 percent drop in pretax profits on average for April-December.

For the fiscal year ending March, they expect their profits to be flat.

Wednesday’s winners included index heavyweights SoftBank Group and Fanuc Corp, which rose 4.9 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Oil explorer Inpex jumped 12 percent after sharply raising its net profit outlook for the year.

Inpex was the Nikkei’s biggest gainer and made the mining sector the top sectoral performer.

Kabu.com Securities rose 5.9 percent after KDDI Corp said on Tuesday it would spend $800 million to buy a minority stake in Kabu.com. (Editing by Kim Coghill)

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