March 4, 2019 / 2:30 AM / 8 months ago

Nikkei rises to fresh 3-month high on prospect of trade deal

* Machinery stocks gain ground on trade talk hopes

* Suzuki Motor tumbles on weak sales at Indian unit

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, March 4 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei rose to a fresh three-month high on Monday morning after companies with exposure to China rallied on signs Beijing and Washington were closing in on a trade deal to end their bitter year-long tariff dispute.

The Nikkei share average gained 0.8 percent to 21,770.18 in midmorning trade, after rising to 21,816.74, the highest since Dec. 13.

The Topix’s 26 subsectors were up, with machinery, chip-related firms relying on demand from China leading the charge. Yaskawa Electric Corp jumped 4.6 percent, Fanuc Corp rose 3.1 percent, Advantest Corp rallied 3.5 percent and Sumco Corp advanced 3.7 percent. Komatsu Ltd added 2.3 percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery rose 2.4 percent.

The Wall Street Journal reported Washington could lift most or all of its tariffs on Beijing while a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to sign a final trade deal could happen later this month.

That followed comments from Trump on Friday that he had asked China to immediately remove all tariffs on U.S. agricultural products because trade talks were progressing well. He also delayed previously scheduled plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on Chinese goods.

“Any sign that indicates progress in trade talks would be positive to Japanese stocks as earnings were pressured by a slowdown in global demand,” said Fumio Matsumoto, a senior fund manager at Dalton Capital Japan.

Business equipment provider Uchida Yoko jumped 10 percent after its August-January net profit more than doubled to 378 million yen from 162 million yen in the previous year thanks to strong software license sales.

Moving against the broader market, Suzuki Motor tumbled 4.2 percent after its Indian unit Maruti Suzuki’s February sales dropped 0.8 percent on the year.

The broader Topix rose 0.5 percent to 1,623.51.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones 1,294 to 721. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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