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Tokyo: Nikkei stock index rises past 20,000


[TOKYO] The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei index on Friday briefly rose past the psychologically important 20,000 level last seen 15 years ago.

The Nikkei 225 index reached 20,006.00 in the first few minutes of trade, rising 0.34 per cent from Thursday following gains on Wall Street and a stronger dollar on an encouraging US jobs report.

It was the first time that the Nikkei hit 20,000 since April 2000.

The index then came off the high, standing at 19,927.48 with a 0.05 per cent loss from Thursday.

The dollar held steady early Friday after rising on an encouraging US unemployment claims report.

The dollar was at 120.58 yen on Friday, hardly changed from 120.59 yen in New York late Thursday but up from 120.28 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday.

The US Labor Department reported on Thursday that the number of first-time unemployment claims rose last week, but claims filed in the past four weeks fell to a nearly 15-year low, suggesting a stronger labor market.

The robust data stoked speculation about the Federal Reserve's plan to raise ultra-low interest rates, boosting the dollar in a positive move for Japanese exporters.

The euro bought US$1.0661 and 128.56 yen on Friday against US$1.0659 and 128.55 yen in US trade.

On Thursday big gains in petroleum stocks lifted the US equity market as investors bet on more large energy mergers following Royal Dutch Shell's takeover of BG Group.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.31 per cent while the broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.45 per cent.