Nikkei lifts to three-week high

<p>The Nikkei is up to a new three-week high today.</p>

The Nikkei has continued its strong week by recording solid gains during today's (April 2nd) trading session, lifting the index to a new three-week high.

Its increase was largely driven by Renesas Electronics Corp, which rose by almost 20 per cent on the back of media reports Apple may be set to buy a stake in the business. Apple is believed to be interested in a unit at Renesas that designs liquid crystal display chips for iPhones, with a price of 50 billion yen (£290 billion) mooted.

The Nikkei rose by 1.5 per cent after climbing to as high as 15,021.12 earlier in the day, which was higher than any time since March 11th, reports Reuters.

Shigemitsu Tsuruta, a senior strategist at SMBC Friend Securities, pointed out that US data contributed to the strong rise in the Nikkei's value today.

Factory activity increases

It was announced by the Institute for Supply Management that national factory activity rose to 53.7 in March, with a rise recorded by the body for the second month in a row.

Mr Tsurata said: "The market is cheering a sign of recovery in the US economy, and foreigners who sold last week are chasing the market higher."

While Renesas Electronics helped to push the value of the Nikkei higher today, there were also some heavy fallers on the index during the session.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co was down by almost one per cent for the day, while Kyushu Electric Power Co slipped 6.5 per cent, taking the firm to a new six-week low. The losses sustained by these companies today meant that the electric and gas subsector was the worst performing sector on the index, falling by 0.9 per cent.

The Nikkei had ended yesterday's session slightly up after a choppy period of trade, after Japanese business sentiment was revealed by a new report to have remained broadly flat over the three months to March.

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