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Tokyo stocks gained ground on weaker yen

JIJI

Stocks exhibited resilience to end higher on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Monday, backed by the yen’s weakening against the dollar while many overseas players were still absent during the Easter long weekend.

The 225-issue Nikkei average advanced 131.62 points, or 0.77 percent, to close at 17,134.37. On Friday, the key market gauge gained 110.42 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues finished up 15.80 points, or 1.16 percent, at 1,381.85, after climbing 11.44 points the previous trading day.

Tokyo stocks got off to a firmer start thanks to the dollar’s rise against the yen after the U.S. government announced an upward revision in U.S. gross domestic product for October-December on Friday.

Export-oriented issues attracted buying, pushing up the Nikkei average more than 160 points at one point in early morning trading.

After the initial buying ran its course, however, the market’s topside grew heavy in thin trading with chiefly European investors still off for the Easter holiday, brokers said.

By midafternoon, stocks quickly lost steam, sending the Nikkei average below 17,000. But the market soon rebounded, underpinned by the weaker yen as well as persistent hopes for economic stimulus measures, brokers said.

“The market’s early spurt can also be attributed to purchases seeking year-end dividends ahead the ex-dividend day Tuesday, but such buying was not powerful enough to help stocks resist selling pressure,” said Chihiro Ota, general manager for investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

Ota also pointed out that investors narrowed their focus to incentive-backed small-cap issues in the afternoon.

Another securities firm official said some players moved to the sell side anticipating a drop following the ex-dividend day.

Investors found it difficult to step up purchases before the release this week of the Bank of Japan’s tankan quarterly business sentiment survey report and other key economic indicators, an online securities firm official noted.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,562 to 301 on the TSE’s first section, while 85 issues were unchanged.

Volume grew to 1.85 billion shares from Friday’s 1.81 billion shares.

Noticeable winners included automakers Toyota, Fuji Heavy and Mazda, industrial robot manufacturer Fanuc, and electronics parts producer Murata Manufacturing.

Insurer Dai-ichi Life, securities firm Nomura Holdings and mega-bank Sumitomo Mitsui attracted buying along with other financiers.

Peptidream surged 11.87 percent after the drugmaker said that it will sign a contract with Asahi Kasei Pharma to jointly develop new products.

Sharp rebounded on the growing view that it will be able to conclude a bailout deal with Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry on Thursday.

By contrast, mobile phone carrier SoftBank Group and clothing store chain operator Fast Retailing met with selling.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average was up 100 points at 16,970.