September 21, 2018 / 7:29 AM / 3 months ago

Nikkei, Topix hit multi-month peaks on receding trade fears

* Nikkei rises 3.4 pct for week

* Metals, shipping stocks strong on receding trade fears

* Construction equipment stocks attract buying

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Japanese stock indexes hit multi-month highs on Friday as ebbing concerns about global trade tensions and bullish views on the U.S. economy supported commodities and manufacturing firms.

The Nikkei share average gained 0.8 percent to 23,869.93, the highest close since Jan. 24. The next milestone is the 24,129.34 level hit on Jan. 23, a break of which would put the index at its highest since November 1991.

For the week, the Nikkei added 3.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the broader Topix gained 0.9 percent to hit a four-month high of 1,804.02.

Market analysts say gains have been supported by views the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war would be less harmful to global growth than initially feared.

Earlier this week, China added $60 billion worth of U.S. products to its import tariff list, hitting back at U.S. duties on $200 billion of Chinese goods that go into effect on Sept. 24.

“The market is focused more on the strong U.S. economy and inflation expectations and is less worried about the impact from U.S.-China trade conflict,” said Naoki Fujiwara, a fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management.

He said investors are also looking ahead to the second round of trade talks between Japan and the U.S. scheduled on Sept. 24.

“If the U.S. says something provocative, it could dent the market temporarily but right now investors think the market will likely take this event in stride,” Fujiwara said.

Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Friday he would meet U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer next week. The meeting follows one in August in which the two sides failed to narrow differences on whether to open up negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement.

Insurers and banks, which invest in high-yielding products such as foreign bonds, rallied as U.S. 10-year yields remained comfortably above 3 percent. Dai-ichi Life Holdings jumped 3.5 percent and T&D Holdings rallied 3.3 percent.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group gained 1.5 percent and Resona Holdings advanced 1.7 percent.

Iron and non-ferrous metal stocks as well as shippers rallied on hopes the impact on demand from China as a result of trade frictions would be limited. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal gained 1.6 percent, JFE Holdings soared 3.1 percent and Sumitomo Metal Mining jumped 3.8 percent.

Shippers Kawasaki Kisen added 2.4 percent and Mitsui OSK Lines surged 4.7 percent.

Construction equipment makers, which have heavy exposure to China demand, were also steady. Komatsu gained 3.4 percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery soared 3.8 percent. (Editing by Sam Holmes)

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