September 13, 2018 / 2:37 AM / 12 days ago

Nikkei rises to near 2-week highs on Sino-U.S. trade talk hopes

* Construction equipment makers rise on trade talk hopes

* Apple-related stocks fall

* Chip stocks continue to weaken after U.S. counterparts sold

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei rallied to near two-week highs on Thursday morning after news of a fresh round of trade talks between China and the United States lifted risk appetite, triggering buying in stocks which are sensitive to demand in China.

The Nikkei share average jumped 1.1 percent to 22,836.86 after scaling 22,858.41 earlier, the highest point since August 31.

The Trump administration has reached out to China for a new round of trade talks as it prepares to activate punitive U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, according to two people familiar with the matter.

“Investors are welcoming this news because Japan has become Trump’s target which has been pressuring sentiment,” said Takashi Ito, an equity market strategist at Nomura Securities. “Although the situation is nowhere near close to resolution yet, this news is serving as a reason to buy.”

While a second round of trade talks between Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is said to have been scheduled on Sept. 21 in the United States, the market’s main concern is whether Tokyo can avert steep tariffs on its car exports, analysts said.

Companies which have large exposure to the Chinese market advanced. Industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp rose 2.5 percent, construction equipment makers Komatsu Ltd surged 3.6 percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery jumped 4.0 percent.

These companies, whose businesses greatly depend on demand from China, tended to be sold on Trump’s trade war rhetoric against Beijing over the past few months.

On the other hand, Apple suppliers were sold after the iPhone maker’s shares declined 1.2 percent overnight after it unveiled larger iPhones but stuck to smaller changes.

Murata Manufacturing shed 3.1 percent, Alps Electric stumbled 5.4 percent and TDK Corp plunged 5.6 percent.

Chip-related stocks continued to weaken, tracking selling in their U.S. counterparts overnight such as Micron Technology , which tumbled 4.3 percent. Advantest Corp dropped 4.2 percent and Tokyo Electron declined 2.8 percent.

The broader Topix gained 1.1 percent to 1,710.55. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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