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Tokyo stocks close 1.67% higher

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks ended up 1.67 percent on Thursday, buoyed by a weaker yen and following a rally on Wall Street driven by strong US economic data.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed 281.77 points higher at 17,167.10, while the Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 1.31 percent, or 17.87 points, to 1,377.67.

“With risk-off sentiment in US stocks abating, Japanese shares should keep rising,” Nobuyuki Kashihara at Mizuho Asset Management told Bloomberg News.

“The basic stance is definitely for a stronger dollar, but given that we’ve already seen tremendous yen weakness, from here on out the dollar might strengthen gradually one step at a time.”

On Wall Street the Dow added 1.23 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.16 percent and the Nasdaq rallied 1.26 percent.

US dealers were encouraged by data showing the trade deficit shrinking sharply to its smallest size in nearly a year and the private sector adding a higher-than-expected 241,000 jobs in December.

The dollar rose to 119.79 yen from 119.17 yen in New York as minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December meeting suggested interest rates are unlikely to rise until at least April.

Nintendo shares jumped more than eight percent in earlier trading before finishing 2.28 percent higher at 12,135.0 yen.

The surge followed news that Nintendo’s Mario character would feature in GungHo Online Entertainment’s hugely popular Puzzle & Dragons game on the 3DS handheld player. GungHo jumped 4.14 percent to 478.0 yen.

Shares of McDonald’s Holdings Co. Japan fell 0.86 percent to 2,530.0 yen after it said Wednesday that a human tooth was found in french fries sold at an Osaka restaurant last year.

It was the latest in a series of problems for the chain’s Japan unit, including contaminated chicken nuggets and a chip shortage.

Japan Tobacco rose 1.43 percent to 3,150.5 yen as an institutional investor called for the cigarette giant to launch a share buyback.

Japan Airlines jumped 5.66 percent to 3,825.0 yen, and rival All Nippon Airways rose 3.33 percent to 304.0 yen after Nomura raised their price target on the firms’ stock, pointing to the benefits of weak oil prices. Fuel is often an airline’s single biggest cost. (AFP)

 

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