Japan Stocks Advance Firmly Amid Weak Yen, M&A Reports

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Japanese stocks skipped uphill early Friday morning, with the Nikkei Average improving by 1%, thanks in part to an accomodating forex market and a bit of deal news. With the dollar back above �120 ahead of the U.S. jobs report (buying �120.15 vs. �119.81 at the previous close), the blue-chip exporters moved mostly higher as well, with Fujitsu Ltd. up 2%, TDK Corp. up 1.8%, and Honda Motor Co. up 1.3% (though Nissan Motor Co. lost 0.2%, and Toyota Motor Corp. underperformed with a 0.4% rise). Retail stocks were in focus after the Nikkei and Wall Street Journal reported separately that convenience-store operator FamilyMart Co. was set to begin merger talks with Circle-K owner UNY Group Holdings Co. . While the chatter weighed on FamilyMart, sending its shares down 3.3%, it appeared to boost UNY, which lurched 9.5% higher. A combination would become Japan's second-largest convenience-store group after 7-Eleven owner Seven & I Holdings Co. , shares of which rose unperturbed by 1.3%. Meanwhile, Japan's No. 2 non-life insurer -- Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdings Inc. -- climbed 2.1% as another Nikkei report said the company would buy about 15% of French reinsurance company Scor SE for more than $910 million. Japan's top non-life insurer, Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. , rose 0.6%. Also on the move, Olympus Corp. added 2.9% as the U.S. Congress focused on government regulators over their role in the outbreak of a CRE superbug said to be have been passed via endoscopes, rather than focusing on Olympus which made some of the scopes. Fujifilm Holdings Corp. , which also produced some of the endoscopes, rose 0.8%.

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