Japan Stocks Make Gains On Ever-weaker Yen

Japanese stocks improved their fortunes at the start of Monday trading, though with the gains limited by some disappointing data. About 20 minutes into the session, the Nikkei Average was up 0.5%, with an identical gain for the Topix, as forex-sensitive blue chips took comfort from a weaker yen (the dollar was buying �121.53 vs. �120.27 around the time of Japan's Friday stock close). The Nikkei Average's move sent the index to 18,014, topping the 18,000 mark for the first time since 2007. Notable gainers included Renesas Electronics Corp. (up 2.6%), Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (up 2.1%), Nidec Corp. (up 2%), Toyota Motor Corp. (up 1.5%), and Mazda Motor Corp. (up 1.8%). Shares of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. traded 1.9% higher as a Nikkei news report said the industrial major's Mitsubishi Aircraft unit was planning a late-May maiden flight for its new jet, the first ever built in Japan. On the other hand, videogame-related companies saw some losses, with Sony Corp. down 0.8%, and Nintendo Co. and Capcom Co. off 1.1% each, for reasons that weren't immediately clear. Ahead of the open, Singapore-traded lead futures had suggested stronger gains for the Tokyo market, but sentiment appeared to take a hit from gross-domestic-product data released 10 minutes ahead of the stock open. Japan's Cabinet Office revised down its GDP for the July-September quarter to a contraction of 1.9% from a year earlier, compared to the originally reported 1.6% drop.

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