January 25, 2019 / 2:44 AM / 8 months ago

Nikkei rallies as chip-related firms, Apple-suppliers gain

* Nikkei has risen 0.5 pct for the week so far

* Apple-suppliers attract buying after chip sector’s strength

* Investors wary over U.S.-China trade talks - analyst

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei rallied on Friday as chip-related firms extended gains, tracking sharp rises in their U.S. counterparts, while investors looked to major events next week for direction.

The Nikkei share average rose 1.0 percent to 20,783.67 at the midday break. The benchmark index has risen 0.5 percent for the week so far.

Chip-related stocks, which rallied on Thursday as investors took heart from Texas Instruments’ and Xilinx Inc’s earnings after U.S. market hours on Wednesday, continued to soar as the results were welcomed on Wall Street overnight.

“Investors who were already excited about the U.S. chip sector’s earnings the day before got even more reassured after they saw how their stocks moved,” said Shogo Maekawa, a global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

Maekawa added that a recovery in the global cyclical chip sector is taken as a silver-lining amid concerns about a global economic slowdown.

He said that investors were focusing on some key events next week such as U.S.-China trade talks. “The market is cautious especially after comments from Ross,” Maekawa said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday that the United States and China are “miles and miles” from resolving trade issues but there is a fair chance the two countries will get a deal.

However, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was somewhat more upbeat, saying the United States and China were “making a lot of progress” in the talks, but he did not elaborate on areas where that progress could be seen.

Silicon products maker Sumco Corp jumped 8.3 percent, Tokyo Electron rallied 3.3 percent, Advantest Corp surged 3.5 percent, while Shin-Estu Chemical soared 3.3 percent.

Traders said that the gains in the chip sector lifted sentiment in shares of Apple-suppliers as well, with Murata Manufacturing surging 5.9 percent and Alps Electric adding 2.6 percent.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index, under pressure in recent months after Apple Inc warned of waning smartphone demand, saw its biggest one-day percentage gain since Dec. 26, advancing 5.7 percent.

Elsewhere, Nissan Motor Co rose 2.6 percent after Renault appointed Michelin boss Jean-Dominique Senard as its new chairman on Thursday, after Carlos Ghosn was forced to resign in the wake of a financial scandal that has rocked the French carmaker and its alliance with Nissan.

The broader Topix gained 0.9 percent to 1,567.09. (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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