Tokyo shares close higher

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JapanBrokerage REUTERS A man looks at his watch as he passes an electronic board displaying a graph of currency rates outside a brokerage in Tokyo.

Tokyo stocks closed 0.70 percent higher on Thursday with exporters getting a boost from the weakening yen as China released positive trade data.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended up 74.07 points at 10,652.64, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares gained 1.13 percent, or 9.97 points, to 889.02.

The Tokyo market's upward swing had been largely hinging on expectations of major moves from Japan's new government, which pledged a series of measures to stoke the world's third-largest economy.

New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday reiterated his call for Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa to introduce a two percent inflation target, ahead of the central bank's policy board meeting later this month.

Abe, who won December's general election, has vowed to beat the nation's chronic deflation, urging the BoJ to aggressively ease monetary policy.

“Expectations for the administration led by Prime Minister Abe persist,” Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of the equity division at SMBC Nikko Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

“A weaker yen will likely boost Japanese corporate earnings,” he added.

Japanese exporters are hurt by a strong yen as it makes their products less competitive overseas.

In Tokyo trade, the euro was stronger at 115.13 yen from 114.77

yen late in New York on Wednesday while the single currency weakened to $1.3055 from $1.3061, ahead of a European Central Bank meeting later Thursday.

The greenback gained on the Japanese currency at 88.18 yen from 87.86 yen.

Also helping sentiment was fresh data from China which showed the world's second-largest economy recorded a 48.1 percent surge in its 2012 trade surplus to $231.1 billion, though total trade volume grew at a much slower pace.

In Tokyo stock trading, China-linked firms rose with construction machinery maker Komatsu up 1.63 percent to 2,294 yen.

Sony closed 3.41 percent higher at 968 yen on a report the struggling electronics giant would sell one of its main buildings in Tokyo to finance a huge restructuring.

Isuzu shares were 3.80 percent higher at 545 yen after the firm said it was in discussions with US giant General Motors on developing next-generation pickup trucks as a report said the two were in talks over a possible tie-up.

All Nippon Airways edged up 0.54 percent to 183 yen after it cancelled a Boeing Dreamliner flight Wednesday because of a brake problem, the third glitch to hit the next-generation aircraft in as many days.

Rival Japan Airlines, which cancelled two Dreamliner flights this week over safety issues, was down 4.11 percent at 3,610 yen. - Sapa-AFP


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