Japan Stocks Head Toward Fourth Day Of Gains

Japanese stocks floated higher early Wednesday morning, heading into a possible fourth straight day of gains, helped by a good U.S. lead, solid auto-sales data and a weaker yen. The Nikkei Average rose 0.6%, outpacing the previous session's 0.4% advance, while the Topix added 0.4%, and the dollar traded at �119.17, well above the �118.86 seen around the time of Tuesday's Tokyo stock close. The forex moves helped drive gains for some tech and industrial exporters (Panasonic Corp. up 1.9%, TDK up 2.3%, Renesas Electronics Corp. up 2.9%), while an up day for Wall Street, including a fresh record high for the Dow industrials, appeared to help Nomura Holdings Inc. and Daiwa Securities Group Inc. rise 1.3% and 1.9%, respectively. The release of U.S. auto-sales data for November supported an advance for the car makers, with Toyota Motor Corp. up 1.2% (its November sales rose 3%) and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. up 1.9% (sales of its Subaru cars soared 24%), though Nissan Motor Co. underperformed with a 0.2% rise after reporting a 1.7% decline in its U.S. sales. Shares of auto-parts supplier Takata Corp. rose 1.4% as the company said it would form a review panel to probe its handling of faulty airbags but didn't say whether it would comply with U.S. regulators' calls for an expanded recall. Pharmaceutical shares were broadly lower, led by a 3% drop for Otsuka Holdings Co. after it announced its purchase of U.S. drug company Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $3.5 billion. Among its rivals, Astellas Pharma Inc. lost 0.3%, and Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. fell 1.1%.

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