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Tokyo: Stocks close 0.99% higher

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[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks jumped 0.99 per cent on Tuesday, with Toyota closing just shy of an all-time high, following a surge on Wall Street driven by weak US data that tempered hopes for an early Federal Reserve rate hike.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange advanced 190.94 points to end at 19,437.00, a fresh 15-year high, while the Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 0.79 per cent, or 12.29 points, to 1,570.50.

The world's biggest automaker, Toyota helped lift the market with its shares rising 0.70 per cent to 8,338.0 yen (S$95.50), just short of a 8,340.0 yen record close in early 2007.

Surging company earnings and rising wages have fuelled expectations for a recovery in Japanese consumer spending, which was hammered by a sales tax rise last year.

"An optimistic mood is spreading in developed markets, and I expect the Japanese market to follow suit," said Toshihiko Matsuno, chief strategist at SMBC Friend Securities.

"We continue to see a situation where risk money flows into Japan and Europe on the back of their monetary policies," he told Bloomberg News.

Earlier Tuesday, the Bank of Japan (BoJ), wrapping up a two-day policy meeting, held off widening its stimulus programme, after the European Central Bank launched an unprecedented monetary easing drive.

But Japan's central bank warned of zero inflation "for the time being", adding to speculation that the BoJ will be forced to expand its monetary easing, possibly as early as next month.

US stocks climbed Monday as the dollar retreated and investors looked ahead to a Federal Reserve policy meeting, hoping for clues about the timing of an interest rate hike.

The Dow shot up 1.29 per cent while the broad-based S&P 500 jumped 1.35 per cent.

The Fed's two-day monetary policy meeting begins Tuesday.

Tokyo stocks are "likely to charge ahead after the BoJ and FOMC (Federal Open-market Committee) meetings - Toyota's rise suggests it", said Okasan Online Securities chief strategist Yoshihiro Ito.

AFP