Nikkei at 2-month high as weak yen lifts exporters

* Nikkei within striking distance from levels seen July 2007 * Fanuc soars to record high on report Third Point buys stake * SoftBank underperforms on weak earnings By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average hit a two-month high on Thursday as the weak yen boosted exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp and Sony Corp, while investors cautiously awaited the outcome of Greek debt negotiations.

Fanuc Corp soared 3.7 percent to a record high after the Nikkei business daily reported that Third Point bought a stake in the industrial robot maker.

It contributed a hefty 25 points to the Nikkei benchmark, or more than 8 percent of the Nikkei’s point gains.

The Nikkei benchmark was up 1.8 percent at 17,973.18 by mid-morning after rising to as much as 17,983.96, the highest level since Dec. 8.

If the index breaches the Dec. 8 high of 18,030.83, it will be the highest since July 2007.

“The Nikkei could breach the December high instantaneously if futures players chase the market higher on a weaker yen. Whether the benchmark holds above the level is another question,” said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

“Japanese companies’ fundamentals have not been impressive.” According to Mizuho Securities, of the 932 companies that reported Oct-Dec earnings, the average pre-tax profit forecast for the year ending March was for a rise of 1 percent on the year, compared to a previously forecast figure of 2.3 percent.

As the peak of the Oct-Dec earnings season has passed, investors want to see further guidance for the next fiscal year through March 2016 to be released around May, Fujito said.

Analysts also said that investors remained focused on the outcome of the Greek debt talks.

CNBC reported late on Wednesday that an agreement in principle between Greece and other euro zone governments was in place, but two official sources told Reuters that, while there was no deal yet, a common statement was being drafted that could leave it open for Greece to extend its current financing.

Exporters were in demand, with Toyota rising 1.8 percent and Sony gaining 3.8 percent after the dollar held firm at 120.22 yen and within striking distance of a five-week peak of 120.48 .

Bucking the strength, SoftBank Corp dropped 0.6 percent after reporting a 16 percent drop in its operating profit for the nine-month period through December.

The broader Topix rose 1.6 percent to 1,449.83, with 31 of its 33 subsectors in positive territory.

The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 1.5 percent to 13,138.77.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)

Nikkei Futures

nikkeifutures.org@imediaone.com

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