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Nikkei ends at one-month high after revised GDP

By Staff
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TOKYO, March 13 (Reuters) The Nikkei share average rose 1.53 percent on Monday to record its highest close since Feb. 9, as revised economic growth data underscored an upbeat outlook for Japan, pushing up a wide range of sectors.

Property shares gained ahead of the government's land price data due next week, while auto stocks rose as the dollar stayed in sight of a one-month high against the yen after healthy U.S.

payrolls data last week.

Revised gross domestic product (GDP) data released on Monday showed that the world's second-largest economy grew 1.3 percent in real, price-adjusted terms in the final three months of last year. That was down from an initial reading of 1.4 percent but above the latest consensus forecast of 1.2 percent.

''The downward revisions were not as bad as expected,'' said Yumi Nishimura, a manager in the investment advisory section at Daiwa Securities SMBC Co. Ltd. ''Some good data was seen as housing rose, beating the market's bearish outlook.'' Analysts said the Bank of Japan's ending of its ultra-easy monetary policy last week also continued to support the market.

The Nikkei rose 245.88 points at 16,361.51, rising for the third straight session. The benchmark index has added more than 700 points since Thursday, the day when the Bank of Japan announced an end to its five-year-old super-easy monetary policy.

The broader TOPIX index was up 1.66 percent at 1,674.66.

The GDP numbers also showed a growing contribution from exports, pushing up exporters such as auto and technology stocks.

Advantest Corp., a semiconductor testing equipment maker that posts about two-thirds of its sales abroad, rose 3.2 percent to 13,910 yen.

Toshiba Corp added 3.2 percent to 654 yen after a report the electronics maker plans to build another flash memory factory in Japan to better compete with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Toshiba said nothing has been decided on a new plant.

The strong dollar helped exporters, especially auto stocks.

The greenback was around 118.80 yen in sight of the one-month high of 119.15 yen hit on Friday.

Toyota Motor Corp. was up 0.8 percent at 6,340 yen and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. gained 1.3 percent to 1,376 yen.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. jumped 6.5 percent to 673 yen ahead of its joint announcement with Toyota Motor due at 9 p.m.

(1200 GMT) on a business alliance.

Business daily Nihon Keizai said on Saturday the two companies have agreed to co-develop a gasoline-electric hybrid system for Fuji Heavy's Subaru cars.

Property stocks lured buyers, with Japan's largest developer Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd. gaining 1.7 percent to 2,640 yen and No.2 Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd. adding 1.6 percent to 2,585 yen.

Expectations of rises in land prices also benefitted East Japan Railway Co., which climbed 4.1 percent to 872,000 yen, a life-time closing high, after the issue briefly touched 875,000.

The company, which owns property such as station buildings, is also being bought as investors focus on its property assets.

Stock buyers were also encouraged by a Goldman Sachs report that forecast recurring profit growth for Japanese companies of 16 percent in the year starting on April 1.

That estimate was bullish compared with Nomura Securities' estimate of 8.2 percent expansion and Daiwa Institute of Research's 8.4 percent forecast increase. The market consensus for earnings also points to single-digit earnings growth.

''We believe the consensus is exaggerating the impact of higher interest rates ... At the same time, we believe the consensus underestimates the potential for stronger top-line growth,'' Goldman Sachs said in a report released late on Friday.

REUTERS PV DS1240

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