Japan's Nikkei rallies on Wall Street's lead as earnings season looms

By Kevin Buckland

TOKYO, Jan 23 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average jumped more than 1% on Monday, taking cues from a rally on Wall Street last week, with chip-related stocks leading gains.

The Nikkei closed the day up 1.33% at 26,906.04, and earlier rose as high as 26,938.28 for the first time since in a month.

Of the index’s 225 components, 182 rose, 39 fell and four were flat.

The broader Topix rose 0.96% to 1,945.38, after hitting its highest since Dec. 16 at 1,947.88.

The yen’s retreat from last week’s 7 1/2-month high also helped sentiment, particularly among exporters.

Investors were even more focused on Wall Street than usual, owing to market holidays around Asia for the Lunar New Year, Nomura strategist Maki Sawada said.

“There are no specific drivers to speak of, and today’s moves are mainly a reflection of Wall Street’s rally on Friday,” she said in a media conference call.

However, gains were capped going into the main part of the domestic earnings season from Tuesday, she added.

On Friday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq led advances among the big three U.S. equity indexes, advancing 2.86%. The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index rallied 3.11%.

Chip-making equipment giant Tokyo Electron rose 2.52%.

Online retailer Rakuten Group was the Nikkei’s best performer, jumping 3.48%.

Startup investor SoftBank Group added 1.73%.

Uniqlo store operator Fast Retailing was 2.66% higher.

Automakers were firm, with Toyota up 0.32% and Suzuki gaining 1.76%.

Nintendo rose 0.45%. (Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Uttaresh.V)

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