Nikkei retreats from 6-1/2 week high after dismal China data
* Nikkei rises 0.1 pct, Topix up 0.3 pct
* Weak China trade data dents early gains
TOKYO, July 10 (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average eased on Wednesday from a 6-1/2 week high hit earlier in the session after unexpectedly weak Chinese trade data heightened concerns about growth in the world's second-largest economy and one of Japan's top export markets. The benchmark Nikkei rose 0.1 percent to 14,489.90 much as 14,555.33, a level not seen since May 24, on the back of gains in U.S. stocks as investors bet that companies will be able to surpass the low bar set for the earnings season. China's exports fell 3.1 percent in June from a year earlier, the first decline since January 2012, while imports dropped 0.7 percent, severely missing market expectations.
The Nikkei China 50 index, which comprises 50 companies with significant exposure to China, also surrendered some of its gains after the trade data. Market participants said they expected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive economic reform policies to prop up Japanese equities in the face of the worries about China's economy and the U.S. Federal Reserve's plan to scale back its massive stimulus programme within the next few months. "There are rising expectations of a revival in Japanese shares as the Liberal Democratic Party is reportedly slated to gain a majority on its own in the upper house election," said Hideyuki Ishiguro, senior strategist at Okasan Securities. "The BOJ is said to be considering saying that the economy is recovering after its policy meeting." Abe, back in power after the Liberal Democratic Party's big win in December elections, has been urging voters to back his ruling bloc in this month's upper house election. The Bank of Japan is to conclude a two-day policy meeting on Thursday, though analysts expect the central bank to stand pat after it stunned financial markets on April 4 with its radical monetary policy to pull the country out of persistent deflation. The broader Topix index added 0.3 percent at 1,200.08, with construction machinery maker Komatsu Ltd up 0.1 percent and industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp down 0.7 percent. The Nikkei faced resistance at around 14,600, the 61.8 percent retracement of its slide from May 23 to June 13, though it is still up 17 percent since the BOJ announced its sweeping stimulus and has risen more than 39 percent so far this year. Other notable gainers on Wednesday included Aeon Co Ltd , up as much as 3.8 percent to a near three-month high of 1,431 yen after the supermarket chain operator reported a record operating profit for the first quarter ended May 31.