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Tokyo stocks close at seven-year high

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks gained 1.18 percent to close at a seven-year high Wednesday on hopes for an end to Greece’s debt stand-off, while a weak yen supported exporters.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 212.08 points to 18,199.17, its best close since July 2007, while the Topix index of all first-section issues climbed 1.41 percent, or 20.60 points, to 1,482.67.

Greek public television said Tuesday the new government will apply for further aid from its European partners, although will not sign up to the painful austerity measures imposed on the country.

And in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said: “We should extend the credit programme by a few months to have enough stability so that we can negotiate a new agreement between Greece and Europe.”

“The market thinks they’ll eventually reach a last-minute compromise,” said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo.

“These assumptions are already being priced into the market,” he told Bloomberg News.

The news will come as a relief after two eurozone finance ministers’ meetings in the past week both collapsed without agreement as Athens refused to continue with the bailout that imposed swingeing spending cuts and tax hikes.

The apparent change of heart also comes days before its financial lifeline package expires, which would leave the country without any cash and unable to pay its bills, leading it to default and almost certainly exit the eurozone.

Earlier Wednesday the Bank of Japan said it would stand pat on its vast monetary easing programme following a two-day meeting.

In currency trade, the dollar bought 118.95 yen, down from 119.29 yen in New York but still stronger than 118.55 yen in Tokyo on Tuesday.

A weaker yen is positive for Japanese exporters as it inflates the value of their repatriated overseas earnings.

Nissan rose 1.57 percent to 1,194.5 yen, Toyota climbed 2.01 percent to 7,959.0 yen, and Uniqlo clothing chain operator Fast Retailing added 0.46 percent to 43,705.0 yen.

Among the decliners, mobile carrier SoftBank fell 0.61 percent to 7,018.0 yen while Fujitsu slipped 0.17 percent to 704.2 yen.

On Wall Street the S&P 500 climbed 0.16 percent to a record high for the second straight session, while the Dow added 0.16 percent. The Nasdaq was up 0.11 percent. -AFP

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