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By Aya Takada
TOKYO, April 9 The Nikkei average rose 1.48 percent to its highest close in nearly six weeks on Monday, as Sony Corp. (6758.T) and other exporters rose after strong U.S. jobs data eased worries about a key market for Japanese goods and lifted the dollar against the yen.
Shares of Pentax Corp. 7750.T jumped more than 9 percent after Hoya Corp. (7741.T) said it would make a tender offer for the Japanese camera and medical equipment maker. It remains unclear whether the bid will succeed, though, with Pentax's board split and its president set to resign. [nT285931]
Shimizu Corp. (1803.T) and other construction shares advanced after Shintaro Ishihara won a third term as governor of Tokyo on Sunday, as his bid to bring the 2016 Olympics to the city has raised hopes for higher public works spending.
"Electric and precision machinery shares are leading a rally in the Nikkei, as a weaker yen is encouraging investors to buy back recently battered stocks," said Hiroyuki Fukunaga, chief strategist at Rakuten Securities.
The Nikkei .N225 closed up 258.98 points at 17,743.76, its highest close since Feb. 27 when a plunge in Chinese shares triggered a global stock sell-off. The broad TOPIX index rose 1.22 percent to 1,738.10.
Shinko Securities equity strategist Tsuyoshi Segawa said the Tokyo market also drew support from the results of Sunday's Japanese local elections. [nT271161]
The results show that voters are generally content with the status-quo as it is often said incumbents fare badly when voters hold weak views on the economy, he added.
Trade was slow with 1.9 billion shares changing hands, compared with a daily average volume of 2.5 billion shares in March. Advancing shares beat decliners by a ratio of six to one.
Masaki Iso, chief investment officer at Yasuda Asset Management, said the small volume underlined the cautious stance of investors ahead of corporate earnings reports this month.
Given uncertainty about the U.S. economic outlook and currency market movements, Japanese companies are likely to forecast only modest growth in profits for the business year that began this month, he added.
"The market is factoring in a scenario in which companies project very conservative numbers, say less than 5 percent growth," he said.
PENTAX SHARES JUMP
Pentax shares closed up 9.1 percent at 800 yen, above the 770 yen that Hoya said it would likely pay in a tender offer, as investors bet Hoya might have to raise its price further or that Pentax may become the target of a rival bid.
High-tech glass maker Hoya was forced to switch to a sweetened tender offer from a stock-swap deal after a majority of Pentax's board expressed opposition to the merger, amid pressure from shareholders who felt the swap ratio undervalued the firm.
Investors also bought shipping shares such as Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (9107.T), as higher freight rates, retreating oil prices and a weak yen have brightened their earnings outlook.
The shipping sector .ISHIP.T gained 4.5 percent on Monday, becoming the largest percentage gainer in the TOPIX's 33 industry sub-indexes (.TSEK).
Fukunaga at Rakuten Securities said shipping shares are attractive as their price-to-earnings ratios are well below the ratio of about 20 times for Nikkei 225 shares.
Exporters benefited from a weak yen, with Sony up 3.9 percent at 6,440 yen and Tokyo Electron Ltd. (8035.T) adding 3.3 percent to 8,830 yen.
Among other notable gainers, KDDI Corp. (9433.T) climbed 3.5 percent to 1.01 million yen after the second-biggest mobile phone operator in Japan said on Sunday it aims to offer a mobile phone service in the United States using a network operated by Sprint Nextel Corp. (S.N). [ID:nT217561]
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