Nikkei rises to 1-1/2-week high, exporters and big-caps gain

TOKYO, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average rose to a 1-1/2-week high on Monday morning as exporters took advantage of a pullback in the yen, while market heavyweights such as Fanuc and Fast Retailing helped boost the benchmark index.

The Nikkei advanced 1.3 percent to 21,999.42 in midmorning trade, after rising to its highest level since Feb. 7 at 22,040.05.

The dollar was little changed at 106.310 yen after sliding on Friday to 105.545, its lowest since November 2016. Recent gains in the yen has put a dampener on exporter stocks, with investors concerned a sustained uptick in the Japanese currency could hurt profits.

Industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp gained 2.0 percent and clothing chain Fast Retailing advanced 1.3 percent, contributing a combined 40 points to the Nikkei.

Automakers rose, with Toyota Motor up 1.8 percent and Subaru Corp advancing 2.1 percent.

Buying was also seen in the banking sector, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group adding 1.8 percent and Mizuho Financial Group gaining 1.8 percent.

The broader Topix rose 1.6 percent to 1,764.22. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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