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Japanese stocks advance as Trump voices hope virus stabilizes


SYDNEY, April 6 (Reuters) – Japanese stocks rose Monday as markets were encouraged by a slowdown in coronavirus deaths and new cases in U.S. hotspots, though uncertainty over a possible foreclosure Tokyo has kept some investors cautious.

Nikkei’s benchmark average rose 2.4% to 18,249.57 at the midday break, driven by futures contracts marking sharp increases in US equity futures.

Future E-minis for the S&P 500 index jumped 3.3% after US President Donald Trump expressed hope that the country was witnessing a “stabilization” of the coronavirus crisis in hot spots.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will impose a state of emergency as early as Tuesday to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, when the cumulative number of infections exceeded 1,000 in Tokyo alone.

Abe will likely announce plans to declare the emergency on Monday, the newspaper said, while the Kyodo news agency said new measures are likely to take effect on Wednesday.

Some analysts said the government could declare a state of emergency by announcing an economic stimulus package to fight the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

The expanded Topix added 1.8% to 1,349.53 before the noon break, with all but four sector sub-indices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in positive territory.

Information and communications was the top performer, up 4.3% due to hopes for growing demand for data as more people work from home or stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NTT Docomo Inc. climbed 6.0%, while KDDI Corp and SoftBank Corp gained 5.5% and 5.4% respectively.

Fujifilm Holdings Corp jumped 6.1% to record high after Reuters and other media announced that Japan plans to increase inventories of the anti-flu drug Avigan, which is being tested as a treatment for COVID- 19 in China.

Denka Co Ltd, which produces the raw chemicals used to make Avigan, rose 14.6%. (Report by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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