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Nikkei jumps 2 pct on optimism ahead of U.S. jobs report

Ayai Tomisawa
Thursday, 6 Feb 2014 | 9:12 PM ET

* Nikkei above 200-day average for first time in 4 days

* Foreigners seen buying back after Japan shares underperformed

* Sony jumps 5 pct on restructuring plan

TOKYO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average jumped 2 percent on Friday morning, moving away from a four-month low hit earlier this week, as investor sentiment was brightened by a rally on Wall Street and hopes for an upbeat U.S. jobs report later in the day. The Nikkei was up 1.7 percent at 14,401.82 in midmorning trade after touching 14,448.14 earlier, recovering from a four-month trough of 13,995.86 set on Wednesday. The benchmark traded above its 200-day moving average of 14,437.24 for the first time in four days, after falling below that line on Tuesday. "Investors are gradually convinced that the weak December U.S. jobs data was a one-time thing, and since the Japanese market has underperformed other markets, foreigners are buying back," said Isao Kubo, an equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management. He added that if Friday's U.S. jobs data is in line with the market consensus or better than expected, the Nikkei will likely regain momentum and move back above 15,000 in the next week. The U.S. nonfarm payrolls report is expected to show that employers added 185,000 jobs in January, according to the median estimate of economists polled by Reuters. On Thursday, data showed that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits had fallen more than expected last week, boding well for the U.S. jobs market and overall economy. The Topix added 1.4 percent to 1,178.68. Sony Corp jumped 5.1 percent to a 1-1/2-week high and was the third-most traded stock by turnover. The company said on Thursday that it would spin off its TV operations into a separate business and sell its Vaio personal computer division, in a bid to end losses. Exporters got a lift as the yen traded around 102.00 to the dollar, having weakened from an 11-week high near 100.76 set on Tuesday. A weaker yen inflates Japanese exporters' overseas earnings when repatriated and can boost their competitiveness. Canon Inc surged 3 percent, Honda Motor Co rose 1.8 percent and Sharp Corp gained 3.9 percent. Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp rose 4.8 percent after the company said it would buy back up to 3.34 percent of its shares outstanding for as much as 200 billion yen. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, an index launched this year comprised of firms with high return on equity and strong corporate governance, rose 1.3 percent to 10,636.95.

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