Japan Stocks Surge To Fresh Gains; Sony, Panasonic Soar

Japan stocks exploded with massive gains for the second straight session, as the market resumed trade after a three-day weekend. The Nikkei Stock Average surged 3.9%, adding to its 4.8% climb Friday when the Bank of Japan surprised investors by expanding monetary easing, sending the yen tumbling and the export-heavy stock market jumping. Tuesday's gain put the Nikkei Average at 17,052.57, with a big upside test lurking at the decade high of 18,300 (hit in March 2007). The millennial high for the Nikkei is April 2000's 20,253, while the all-time record for the benchmark is the still-distant 38,915.87, struck on Dec. 29, 1989. Meanwhile, the Japanese yen was significantly weaker than even its late Friday level, with the dollar rising to �113.70, up sharply from �111.43 at the previous stock close. Names popular with foreign investors saw particularly impressive jumps in price Tuesday, with Sony Corp. up 11.6%, Panasonic Corp. up 10.5%, and Nissan Motor Co. up 7.2% ahead of its earnings report due out after the close of trade. Softbank Corp. , also slated to report quarterly results, rose a more modest 3.8%. A Nikkei report that regional lenders Bank of Yokohama Ltd. and Higashi-Nippon Bank Ltd. were in talks to merge also excited the market, with Bank of Yokohama up 8% and Higashi-Nippon leaping 24%. Fast Retailing Co. added 4.6% ahead of its October sales results later in the day, though some other retailers underperformed, with J. Front Retailing Co. up 2.3%, Lawson Inc. up just 0.4% after news its customers would be able to order and pick up Amazon.com items at its stores, and FamilyMart Co. actually falling 1.4%.

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