August 7, 2018 / 2:53 AM / 4 months ago

Nikkei edges up after SoftBank jumps on strong Q1 results

* SoftBank contributes hefty positive points to Nikkei

* N/T ratio hits 2-1/2-week high

* Investors’ focuses shifted to earnings temporarily - analyst

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Tokyo’s Nikkei share average edged up on Tuesday morning after index-heavyweight SoftBank jumped on the back of strong first-quarter results, with investors focussed on a further batch of earnings releases from Japan Inc.

The Nikkei gained 0.24 percent to 22,562.10 at the midday break.

SoftBank Group Corp surged as much as 6 percent to a nine-month high after it reported a 49 percent jump in quarterly profit, boosted by the sale of its stake in Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart in the first public divestment by its massive Vision Fund.

The stock contributed a hefty 71 positive points to the Nikkei benchmark index, a key factor in the index’s outperformance against the broader Topix, which only rose 0.15 percent to 1,735.46.

The Nikkei’s outperformance led the Nikkei versus Topix ratio, the so-called NT ratio, to 13.00 after hitting 13.02 earlier, the highest level in 2-1/2-weeks.

According to Mizuho Securities, a total of about 72 percent of Japanese companies with the fiscal year ending March 2019 reported their first quarter results so far, with an 8.9 percent rises in their quarterly pretax profits and 1.1 percent gain in their annual forecasts.

“The achievements so far have been better than expected,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a strategist at Mizuho Securities, adding that investors’ have temporarily shifted their focus to Japanese corporate earnings from global trade war worries.

Japan Steel Works jumped 18 percent after it raised its net profit outlook for the fiscal year ending March 2019 to 18 billion yen from 15 billion yen, thanks to an improvement in its industrial machinery business.

Rakuten Inc soared 7 percent after it reported a 30.7 percent rise in its January-June operating profit. Kyodo reported that the e-commerce operator will likely have lower-than-expected investment costs as it prepares to enter the mobile phone business.

On the downside, Maruha Nichiro, the leading player in the seafood industry, tumbled 5.8 percent after its operating profit for the April-June period dropped 31.9 percent on the year to 5.18 billion yen, causing the fish and forestry sector to fall 2.5 percent and become the worst performer on the board in moring trade. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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