Nikkei rises on Wall Street gains; heads for 3 straight monthly gain

* For the month, Nikkei has gained 3.5 pct * Fujifilm soars on M&A deal * BOJ tankan, U.S. jobs data eyed this week By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average rose on Tuesday, tracking gains in Wall Street and rebounding from a sharp decline last week, but investors refrained from taking large positions before key economic data later in the week.

The Nikkei benchmark rose 0.6 percent to 19,525.82 points by mid-morning.

After a sharp drop last week, the benchmark is down 1.3 percent from its 15-year high of 19,778.60 hit earlier this month.

For the month, the Nikkei has gained 3.5 percent and was set to mark its three straight monthly gain. For the quarter, it has advanced 12 percent.

On the last trading day of the fiscal year, investors will likely stay on the sidelines before economic data such as the Bank Of Japan’s tankan survey on Wednesday and U.S. jobs data on Friday, analysts said.

“It’s a technical rebound today amid a lack of fresh cues now. The market has been sensitive to U.S. economic data, so this Friday’s jobs data may give some direction to the market,” said Masaru Hamasaki, head of market & investment information department at Amundi Japan.

“If the data proves that the U.S. economic recovery is intact, it should be positive for the global stock market in the long-term, including Japan.” Also boosting risk sentiment was fresh steps by China to shore up its economy. China on Monday cut downpayment requirements for home buyers for the second time in six months as the cooling housing market weighs on economic growth.

Fujifilm Holdings Corp jumped 4.2 percent to 4,389.5 yen, the highest level since January 2008, after it agreed to acquire U.S. biotechnology firm Cellular Dynamics International Inc (CDI) for $ 307 million.

Pigeon Corp soared 8.8 percent to a record high after the company carried out a 3-for-1 stock split to its common stock, effective as of May 1.

Exporters were in demand, with Toyota Motor Corp rising 1.1 percent and Nissan Motor Co adding 1.0 percent.

The broader Topix gained 0.5 percent to 1,564.90 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 0.3 percent to 14,229.19.

(Editing by Kim Coghill)

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