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Tokyo: Stocks hit fresh 15-year high


[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks edged up Friday to a fresh 15-year high, despite profit-taking largely erasing earlier gains that were driven by the yen's fall.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange ticked up 0.06 percent, or 12.15 points, to end at 18,797.94, while the Topix index of all first-section issues advanced 0.14 per cent, or 2.17 points, to 1,523.85.

The market opened in positive territory and then fell into the red by the afternoon as investors locked in positions before the month's end.

It jumped back into the black as trading finished.

"Even if there's no good news, shares should go higher as long as there are no negative catalysts," said Soichiro Monji, chief strategist at Tokyo-based Daiwa SB Investments.

"But shares have risen very quickly, so some investors will be taking profits," he told Bloomberg News.

Investors largely shrugged off official data released Friday that showed Japan's inflation has fallen to its lowest level since May 2013, just after Tokyo launched a high-profile offensive aimed at conquering years of falling prices and tepid growth.

The reading - a 0.2 per cent rise after excluding the effect of an April 2014 tax hike - challenges Bank of Japan chief Haruhiko Kuroda's claim that inflation is on an uptrend.

Overnight, the dollar firmed against the yen as US inflation data pointed to rising pressures that could ease the way for the Federal Reserve to up interest rates, a plus for the greenback.

The dollar slipped back to 119.24 yen in Asia Friday, down from 119.42 yen in New York but still up from 118.97 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday.

A weak yen is positive for Japanese exporters as it makes them more competitive abroad and inflates repatriated overseas profits.

In share trading, Yamaha rose 1.96 per cent to 2,972 yen after the motorcycle giant announcement that it will join the four-wheel market by launching small cars in Europe as early as 2019.

Sony climbed 2.03 per cent to 3,414.5 yen, while Uniqlo clothing chain operator Fast Retailing rose 0.74 per cent to 46,330.0 yen.

In New York the Nasdaq powered closer to 5,000 points on Thursday while weakness in oil-linked equities kept the Dow and S&P 500 in the red.