Japan shares end firmer ahead of election results; SoftBank jumps

TOKYO, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Japanese shares ended higher on Monday as investors awaited election results for the country’s ruling party to choose a successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while SoftBank Group jumped on Nvidia Corp’s $40 billion deal.

The benchmark Nikkei share average closed 0.74% higher at 23,579.48, while the broader Topix gained 0.93% to 1,651.91, hitting the highest level since Feb. 21.

“The market is strong today. There is an anticipation of higher prices,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities, adding that investors’ buying appetite helped offset selling pressure.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is poised to become head of Japan’s ruling party on Monday and prime minister on Wednesday, succeeding Abe, the nation’s longest-serving leader.

As Suga, a long-time loyal aide to Abe, has vowed to continue his policies, few market players expect radical changes.

However, analysts said investors might chase the market higher on hopes of a further rise in stock prices after the election results.

SoftBank Group jumped 8.96% to mark its biggest daily gain since March 25, after the company said it agreed to sell chip designer Arm to Nvidia Corp for as much as $40 billion in a deal set to reshape the semiconductor landscape.

Executives of the tech conglomerate have also held early-stage talks about taking the company private as it seeks a new strategy after disposing of several large assets, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Also supporting market sentiment were gains in U.S. stock futures during the Asian trade, in addition to COVID-19 vaccine hopes after AstraZeneca resumed its trials.

Paper and pulp led the sectoral gainers on the main bourse, up 2.38%, with Pack Corp climbing 3.66% and Nippon Paper Industries rising 1.64%.

Telecommunication companies were hit after Suga said on Friday he wanted to cut cell phone charges by around 40%.

SoftBank Corp dropped 5.01%, while NTT Docomo and KDDI Corp dropped 2.73% and 3.05%, respectively. (Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)