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Tokyo: Shares extend global rally on central bank stimulus bets

Tokyo shares closed sharply lower on Tuesday, as oil prices resumed their downward slide and investors eye the first policy meetings of the year by the US and Japanese central banks.

[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks rose on Monday, extending a global rally as investors bet on the possibility that central banks will unleash more stimulus to bolster hard-hit financial markets.

A bloodletting on major bourses since the start of the year has stoked talk that policymakers will step in, with the Bank of Japan set for its first meeting of 2016 later this week.

Japanese shares rallied nearly six percent Friday, tracking strong gains in US and European markets.

Sentiment got a boost as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said it would review its policies in March and could boost its stimulus.

"Investors expect not only the European Central Bank, but also that the Bank of Japan will expand stimulus," Shoji Hirakawa, chief equity strategist at Okasan Securities, told Bloomberg News.

"Japanese markets have dropped and recent leading economic data is not good, which goes a different way from the BoJ's expectations," opening the door for more potential easing, he added.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 advanced 0.90 per cent, or 152.38 points, to close at 17,110.91 and the Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 1.34 per cent, or 18.44 points, to 1,392.63.

Shortly before the opening bell on Monday, official data showed Japan's trade deficit in 2015 narrowed by 78 per cent to 2.83 trillion yen (S$34 billion).

Still, it marked the fifth annual deficit, with inflation and other key indicators due on Friday.

The BoJ will also make a policy announcement Friday as weak growth and a drop in oil prices weigh on its attempts to lift inflation.

In Tokyo share trading, mobile carrier SoftBank jumped 2.37 per cent to 5,019 yen, market heavyweight Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo chain, was up 1.20 per cent at 37,870 yen and Sony rose 0.38 per cent to 2,538 yen.

Hitachi lost early gains to fall 0.71 per cent to 597.8 yen as the leading Nikkei business daily said the firm would be involved in the construction of four nuclear reactors in Britain.

Troubled auto parts giant Takata dived 9.79 per cent after US safety regulators said on Friday that recalls of the company's air bags would expand by millions more vehicles following a 10th death linked to the exploding devices.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the recall of another five million Takata airbags for cars sold in the United States.

The Japanese company has been forced to recall some 28 million vehicles with defective airbags globally.

On currency markets, the dollar stood at 118.76 yen, flat from New York on Friday.