Nintendo shares jump 17 percent after Tencent wins key China Switch sales approval

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Nintendo Co Ltd shares jumped 17 percent in morning Tokyo trade on Friday, a day after China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd won a key approval to begin selling Nintendo’s Switch console in the world’s largest video games market.

FILE PHOTO – The Nintendo booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2017. REUTERS/ Mike Blake

That is the biggest percentage gain since July 2016, when enthusiasm for Nintendo-backed smartphone game Pokemon Go sent the stock rocketing. Friday’s jump sent the shares to their highest price since October and pushed the year-to-date gain to 32 percent.

Nintendo’s U.S.-listed shares rose 12 percent overnight after the Chinese province of Guangdong allowed Tencent to distribute the Switch console with a test version of the “New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe” game.

It remains unknown when the console may go on sale in China, with games needing to clear a separate approval process.

Gaming industry leader Tencent is trying to recover from a lengthy game approval freeze in China last year. The firm is listed in Hong Kong, where financial markets are closed on Friday for a public holiday.

The freeze resulted in a