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Nikkei briefly tops 12,000 on Wall Street’s surge

JIJI

The benchmark Nikkei index briefly retook the 12,000 line for the first time in more than 53 months Thursday, on the back of Wall Street’s continued gains overnight and the yen’s weakening.

The Nikkei 225 closed up 35.81 points, or 0.30 percent, at 11,968.08, its highest finish since Sept. 25, 2008. The index rose for the sixth straight session. The Topix index of all first-section issues edged up 1.13 points, or 0.11 percent, to end at 1,004.35, its highest close since Oct. 3, 2008.

The Nikkei rose as high as 12,069.60 in early trading — the highest intraday level since Sept. 26, 2008 — after the Dow Jones industrial average rewrote its all-time closing high for the second day in a row Wednesday, spurred by robust U.S. private-sector jobs data for last month. But the key market yardstick shed most of its gains later in the session, pressured by profit-taking.

In early trading, “hedge buying of index futures from investors who had sold call options prior to the (special quotations) seemed to boost the Nikkei,” a technical analyst at a bank-affiliated brokerage said, referring to the settlement Friday of March index futures and options contracts.

“Investors moved to lock in profits for now due to a sense of achievement, after the Nikkei surged about 700 points over the six sessions through today and briefly exceeded 12,000,” said Toshiyuki Kanayama at Monex Inc.

The yen’s minor rise from its intraday lows in morning trade also prompted some selling, Kanayama added.

Losers edged winners 817 to 765 in the first section, while 117 issues were unchanged. Volume rose to 3.190 billion shares from Wednesday’s 2.991 billion.

GS Yuasa shot up 8.98 percent after a wire service reported that the U.S. authorities may approve test flights of the trouble-prone Boeing 787 within days. The company supplies batteries for the sophisticated passenger jet.

JGBs edge up

Japanese government bonds edged up Thursday after recouping their early losses.

In futures trading, the lead March contract on 10-year JGBs ended up 0.06 point from Wednesday at 145.12. Volume fell to 49,279 contracts from 54,732.

In late interdealer trading in cash JGBs, the yield on the latest 328th 10-year issue with a 0.6 percent coupon stood at 0.675 percent, down from 0.680 percent late Wednesday.