REFILE-Nikkei hits near 7-1/2-year high on weak yen, US economic optimism
(Fixes spelling of name in eighth paragraph to 'Tokai Tokyo Research Center Co' from 'Tokai Tokyu Research Center Co') * Exporter shares reap rewards of weaker yen * Topix hits 6-year peak * Toymaker Tomy soars on share buyback By Thomas Wilson TOKYO, Dec 4(Reuters) - Japanese stocks jumped to a near 7-1/2-year high on Thursday as a weak yen drove exporter shares, while the mood was also supported by data showing U.S. economic resilience and expectations of more stimulus from the European Central Bank. The Nikkei benchmark rose 0.8 percent to 17,856.89 by 0124 GMT after earlier hitting 17,912.59, the highest mark since July 2007. The index is on course for a fifth straight day of gains. The broader Topix also scaled a six-year peak, adding 0.8 percent to 1,441.33, with toymaker Tomy jumping 10.0 percent to its highest since 2011 after announcing a 6.7 billion yen ($55.9 million)share buyback. [ID: nL3N0TN2NL]. With the yen hitting a seven-year trough of 119.88 against the dollar, market participants said the weakening currency's potential to raise exporters' earnings buoyed their stock prices. Toyota Motor Co jumped 1.0 percent and Honda Motor Co Ltd gained 1.7 percent. Also boosting exporter stocks was data from the U.S., a major market for Japanese manufacturers. The data showed private firms adding jobs at a brisk clip in November, pointing to resilience in the world's largest economy in the face of a weak global outlook. [ID: nL2N0TN0Q7] Investors also were looking toward the European Central Bank's policy meeting and upcoming Japanese election as potential market catalysts. "There's activity in anticipation of extremely promising conditions being born," said Hiroyuki Nakai, chief strategist at Tokai Tokyu Research Center Co. The ECB is seen as considering a programme of sovereign bond buying to revive the eurozone's flagging economy. The ECB meets on Thursday. [ID: nL6N0TN2FT] Separately, a poll pointed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's coalition scoring a handsome win at the Dec. 14 general election, suggesting a fresh mandate for his 'Abenomics' plan for reviving the Japanese economy.[ID: nL3N0TN4FT] Large-cap firm Fanuc Corp added 2.5 percent, while other market heavyweights Softbank Corp and Uniqlo clothes brand owner Fast Retailing were flat and down 0.2 percent, respectively. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.7 percent to 13,080.56 (1 US dollar = 119.8500 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Thomas Wilson; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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