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Nikkei ends at seven-month high above 9,500

JIJI

Stocks advanced Thursday, buoyed by Wall Street’s gains overnight and the weaker yen, with the benchmark Nikkei average ending above 9,500 for the first time in more than seven months.

The 225-issue average closed up 76.32 points, or 0.81 percent, at 9,545.16, the first finish above the 9,500 line since April 27.

The Topix rose 6.88 points, or 0.88 percent, to end at 788.74.

A wide range of issues drew buying from the outset of Thursday’s trading on the heels of gains in U.S. equities on hopes for a deal between Democrats and Republicans to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

The yen’s weakening against the dollar and the euro boosted export-oriented issues on expectations of improved corporate earnings.

Wariness over the fiscal cliff eased following U.S. President Barack Obama’s comment Wednesday that the problem can be solved “in about a week” if Republicans compromise on tax for the wealthy, brokers said.

The market was also supported by renewed hopes for the next Tokyo administration after surveys by major Japanese newspapers showed Thursday that the Liberal Democratic Party, which has vowed to press the Bank of Japan to take bolder monetary easing steps, is likely to win a majority of House of Representatives seats in the Dec. 16 election, brokers said.

“The LDP winning a single-party majority would be the best scenario for the market,” said Ryuta Otsuka, strategist at the investment information department of Toyo Securities Co.

Despite the Nikkei average’s close above 9,500, Otsuka said he is not sure whether the index will be able to stay well above the threshold.

“Selling seemingly from domestic institutional investors has been persistent above 9,500, although futures-led buying from foreign investors has boosted the market,” he said.

Gainers overwhelmed losers 1,268 to 287 in the TSE’s first section, while 136 issues were unchanged. Volume rose to 2.011 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.836 billion.

JGBs hit highs

Japanese government bonds gained further ground Thursday, with a key futures contract and a 10-year benchmark issue rising to highs in some 9½ years.

The lead December futures contract on 10-year JGBs ended up 0.23 point at 145.22, after hitting 145.24, the highest level for a key contract since June 11, 2003.