Nikkei ends higher as companies relying on China demand soar


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    * Nikkei ends up 2 pct for the week
    * Firms with China exposure lead Friday's gains
    * Descente soars after report Itochu raises stake to 40 pct

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, March 15 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei closed higher on
Friday as companies with large exposure to China soared on
Beijing's commitment to boosting economic growth, while
investors also saw signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks.
    There was little impact on the market from the Bank Of
Japan's decision to keep monetary policy steady.*:nL3N2115QE
    The Nikkei share average  .N225  ended 0.8 percent higher at
21,450.85, with the index gaining 2.0 percent for the week.
    China's economy is facing additional downward pressure but
Beijing will not let economic growth slip out of a reasonable
range, Premier Li Keqiang told reporters on Friday at end of the
annual parliament meeting.*:nB9N1PJ03Q
    Separately, Xinhua news agency said on Friday that Chinese
Vice Premier Liu He spoke by telephone with U.S. Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert
Lighthizer, with the two sides making further substantive
progress on trade talks.*:nB9N20G02G
    "The market mood is improving as worries about a global
economic slowdown are receding," said Hiroyuki Fukunaga, chief
executive of Investrust.
    The news from China boosted Japanese firms with large
exposure to the world's second largest economy.
    Fanuc Corp  6954.T  rose 1.4 percent, while Komatsu Ltd
 6301.T  gained 1.8 percent and Yaskawa Electric Corp  6506.T 
jumped 4.2 percent.
    Elsewhere, Descente  8114.T  soared 2.7 percent after the
Nikkei reported that trading house Itochu Corp  8001.T  had
raised its stake in the sportswear maker to 40 percent from
about 30 percent.
    The broader Topix  .TOPX  gained 0.9 percent to 1,602.63,
with all but two of its 33 subsectors in positive territory.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones 1,434 to 634.

 (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa
Editing by Darren Schuettler)
 ((; 81-3-6441-1875; Reuters

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