Japan Stocks Ride Yen Higher; Tepco Gains On Thai-deal Report

MarketWatch Pulse

Japanese stocks clawed their way to further gains early Thursday, sitting at their best levels in 15 years as favorable forex moves flattered the blue-chip exporter shares. About 20 minutes into the session, the Nikkei Stock Average was 0.3% higher and rising, extending its 0.9% advance Wednesday to its best close since April 2000. The broader Topix was 0.4% firmer, with gains for both benchmarks greased by another drop for the yen, as the dollar rose to �121.20 from �120.63 at the same time a day earlier. The currency-sensitive tech and industrial names saw some improvement, with Komatsu Ltd. up 1.7%, Fuji Electric Co. up 1%, Sharp Corp. up 1.2% after recent losses, and Kyocera Corp. also up 1.2%. Panasonic Corp. rose 2.2%, adding to a recent rally as the company increases its solar-cell output, with the shares up 7% for the week to date. The auto makers, which are often less tied to the yen's fortunes given their strong production presence abroad, traded mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp. up 0.2% and Nissan Motor Co. higher by 0.3%, but Honda Motor Co. -- seen as most exposed to the latest airbag-related auto recalls -- lost 0.2%. Takata Corp. , which made the faulty airbags, saw its shares drop another 1% for a more-than-9% loss in the week so far. The larger financial names were also on the rise one day ahead of a monetary-policy decision, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. up 0.6%, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. up 0.9%, and Daiwa Securities Group Inc. up 0.4%. The utilities enjoyed gains as well, with a 3.8% rise by Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s leading the pack as a Nikkei news report said Tepco was teaming with Thailand's state-owned power utility on liquefied-natural-gas operations.

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