(Corrects expected delay in tax hike in paragraph 5)
By Joshua Hunt
TOKYO, May 30 (Reuters) - Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index closed at its highest level in more than a month on Monday as the yen retreated against the firming dollar on expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates soon.
The Nikkei share average ended the day 1.4 percent higher at 17,068.02, its highest close since April 27.
But trading remained subdued and the total volume on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section was its lowest in five months at 1.597 billion shares.
Turnover also notched a 5-month low at 1.560 trillion yen.
Also buoying sentiment was news that Japan’s prime minister would delay a sales tax hike scheduled for next April by 2-1/2 years.
Japan’s currency hit a more than 1-month low against the dollar and continued to fall, lifting the share prices of exporters like automakers, which rely heavily on overseas sales.
Nissan Motor Co surged 3.8 percent while Honda Motor Co climbed 3 percent and Mazda Motor Corp gained 3.7 percent.
Household appliances and electronics exporter Panasonic Corp ended the day 3.1 percent higher.
Toshiba Corp soared 4.6 percent and touched a 5-1/2 month high of 280 yen as the embattled electronics firm climbs toward JP Morgan’s fresh target price of 330 yen, raised last Thursday from 220 yen. JP Morgan cited an earnings structure transformation and profit potential in Toshiba’s nuclear business as reasons for raising its target price and stock rating.
The broader Topix climbed 1.2 percent to end the day at 1,366.01 with all but two of its 33 subindexes in positive territory.
The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 1.2 percent to 12,329.06. (Reporting by Joshua Hunt; Editing by Kim Coghill)