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Nikkei nears 12,000 mark on Dow’s record run

JIJI

Stocks advanced sharply Wednesday, bolstered by Wall Street’s rise to a record high overnight, with the Nikkei 225 average hitting a fresh 53-month closing high above 11,900.

The benchmark Nikkei closed up 248.82 points, or 2.13 percent, at 11,932.27, its highest finish since Sept. 25, 2008, and extending its winning streak to a fifth day. Meanwhile, the Topix index rebounded 14.60 points, or 1.48 percent, to 1,003.22, ending above the 1,000 threshold for the first time since Oct. 3, 2008.

A wide range of sectors drew buying from the outset of Wednesday’s trading after the Dow Jones industrial average rewrote its all-time closing high for the first time in almost 5½ years Tuesday. The Nikkei extended its gains in the afternoon, led by index futures.

Brokers pointed to the global trend of higher stock prices on the back of receding uncertainties over the global economy and fund inflows to risk assets thanks to monetary easing by central banks in Europe, the United States and Japan. Some major European stock indexes hit multiyear highs Tuesday, while Asian markets firmed Wednesday.

“But there will be battles (between buyers and sellers) before the Nikkei reaches 12,000 amid a flurry of speculation,” Yutaka Miura at Mizuho Securities Co. cautioned.

He added that “nervous trading is expected Thursday” prior to the fixing of special quotations to settle March index futures and options contracts Friday. Miura also said investors may suddenly feel a sense of achievement after the Topix closed above the 1,000 line.

Winners overwhelmed losers 1,294 to 304 in the first section, while volume fell to 2.991 billion shares from 3.079 billion Tuesday.

Sharp rocketed 14.05 percent in heavy trading after media reports said the cash-strapped electronics maker will accept investment from South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.

JGB futures bounce back

The key Japanese government bond futures contract wiped out its early weakness to end higher Wednesday, on continuing strong market expectations for further monetary easing by the Bank of Japan.

The March contract on 10-year JGBs finished up 0.08 point from Tuesday at 145.06. Volume dwindled to 54,732 contracts from 71,278. In late interdealer trading in cash JGBs, the yield on the new benchmark 328th 10-year issue with a 0.6 percent coupon stood at 0.670 percent.