Tokyo stocks close up

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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 - Tokyo stocks closed 2.17 percent higher on Friday, with investors encouraged by gains on Wall Street and a weaker yen ahead of the release of key US jobs data.

The Nikkei-225 index soared 307.29 points to 14,462.41, while the broader Topix index of all first-section issues was up 2.30

percent, or 26.77 points, to 1,189.14.

On Wall Street, the Dow jumped 1.22 percent on Thursday on optimism over January's jobs market report due later Friday.

Robust employment data could staunch fears of an economic slowdown as the Federal Reserve reduces its stimulus drive, dealers said.

“The upcoming jobs data is viewed as critical for markets, which are pricing in further growth. So any hints that they might be good are positive for sentiment,” said Mutsumi Kagawa, senior strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Centre.

But Tatsunori Kawai, chief strategist at kabu.com, warned that “a weak number could trigger another market sell-off”.

Sony shares closed up 4.12 percent at 1,691 yen after the electronics giant late Thursday announced it was cutting 5,000 jobs and exiting the stagnant PC market this year.

Investors cheered the aggressive restructuring plan, which offset the impact of a forecast net loss of $1.08 billion for the full year to March, analysts said.

“Sony's stock was cheap enough to warrant picking up on the restructuring theme,” Kawai said, adding: “The shares would have probably been killed if they had been trading around the 3,000-yen level before this news came out.”

An equity trading director at a foreign brokerage said Tokyo governor election coming up Sunday had pushed up select shares.

Japan Bridge rose 2.85 percent to 180 yen as Yoichi Masuzoe, a candidate backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who favours more public works spending, is tipped to win the race.

Camera maker Nikon was up 5.49 percent at 1,765 yen and automaker Suzuki climbed 2.10 percent to 2,623 yen after the pair reported solid earnings Thursday.

In currency markets, the dollar was at 102.14 yen, hardly changed from 102.10 yen in New York Thursday afternoon but well above the mid-101 yen range in Tokyo earlier Thursday.

(Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this article) - Sapa-AFP


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