Wires

Nikkei edges up to highest close in a year, Softbank Group stumbles

Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Japanese shares posted small gains to close at a one-year high on Thursday, although worries over possible delays in a first-phase Sino-U.S. trade deal capped gains, while Softbank Group slid on its first quarterly loss in 14 years.

The Nikkei share average ended up 0.11% at 23,330.32, its highest finish since early October last year.

The broader Topix gained 0.22% to 1,698.13, also a one-year high, with growth shares outperforming with gains of 0.38%.

"The market is very strong at the moment. For one, there are signs the global chip sector is bottoming out and the U.S. Fed is likely to keep its easy stance, so a recession will likely be avoided," said Tetsuro Ii, president of Commons Asset Management.

"Foreign investors are buying Japanese stocks as global cyclical shares," he added.

Keeping gains in check was a Reuters report that a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign an interim trade deal could be delayed until December as discussions continue over terms and venue.

Still, over the past month, the Nikkei had rallied about 8% and Topix 7%, outperforming most other markets, on rising expectations that Washington and Beijing will sign a "phase one" deal as a first step toward resolving their 16-month long trade dispute.

Those strong gains came even as Japanese corporate earnings have yet to show a broad-based recovery.

A Reuters Tankan poll on Thursday showed Japanese manufacturers turned the most pessimistic in 6-1/2 years in November and the service-sector mood fell to three-year lows, hurt by the global slowdown, natural disasters and a sales tax hike at home.

Softbank Group fell 2.2% after it posted an operating loss of 704 billion yen ($6.5 billion) in the July-September quarter due to a writedown on its investment through its giant Vision Fund on WeWork and Uber Technologies .

Mitsubishi Motors fell 6.8% after the carmaker slashed its full-year profit outlook by 67% as it expects sluggish demand in North America and China to continue.

Graphite electrode maker Tokai Carbon lost 4.7% on disappointing earnings due to slowing demand while rival manufacturer Showa Denko also dropped 0.3% following its earnings.

On the other hand, Olympus soared 15.1% to a record high after its quarterly earnings beat market estimates, helped by strong sales of endoscopes.

Medical equipment maker Sysmex gained 7.0% and discount store operator Pan Pacific International jumped 5.6% on brisk earnings. (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)