Nikkei jumps 1.9 pct, highest close since quake

* Nikkei posts biggest percentage gain since March 30

* Tokyo Electric surges 24 pct, up by daily 80-yen limit

By Chikafumi Hodo and Antoni Slodkowski

TOKYO, April 8 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei stock average
jumped 1.9 percent to close at its highest level since the March
11 earthquake, with short-covering encouraged by an outperform
rating for beleaguerend Tokyo Electric and a government
plan to avoid rolling power blackouts.

Commodity trading advisers in the Nikkei futures market
helped lead the short-covering while gains in commodity prices
and further declines in the yen against the euro also bolstering
sentiment, traders said.

“There is no clear way you can explain today’s rally. TEPCO
shares’ sharp gains, the government’s plan to avoid rolling
blackouts and the yen’s weakness are all positive factors, but
again, you really can’t pinpoint the exact factor,” said
Koichi Ogawa, chief portfolio manager at Daiwa SB Investments.

The benchmark Nikkei closed up 1.9 percent or 177.15
points at 9,768.08, its highest close since March 11 and the
biggest percentage gain for a single day since March 30.

The broader Topix ended up 1.4 percent or 12.03
points at 853.13.

Shares of Tokyo Electric, jumped by one-fourth on Friday
after Mizuho Securities reiterated its “outperform” rating on
the operator of a crippled nuclear plant and set a target price
more than double the current level. [ID:nL3E7F80O5]

Mizuho said in a note to clients that it had set its target
price at 900 yen, set roughly equal to its forecast for book
value per share at the end of the current financial year in
March 2012.

Tokyo Electric shares, which tumble more than 80 percent
since the quake, surged by the daily 80-yen limit, or 24 percent
higher, to finish at 420 yen.

(Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

Nikkei jumps 1.9 pct, highest close since quake