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Tokyo: Stocks open slightly higher

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Tokyo stocks opened slightly higher on Thursday, with a weaker yen underpinning the Nikkei index after it hit a fresh 15-year high the previous day.

[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks opened slightly higher on Thursday, with a weaker yen underpinning the Nikkei index after it hit a fresh 15-year high the previous day.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which finished at its best level since April 2000 on Wednesday, added 18.91 points, or 0.09 percent, to 20,215.46 at the start.

The dollar rose on Wednesday as US Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting minutes showed a June interest rate hike was unlikely but investors were convinced September was still in play.

"Many participants" at the US central bank's April monetary policy meeting "thought it unlikely that the data available in June" would meet conditions required for a rate hike, the minutes of the April 28-29 meeting said.

Policymakers expressed concern about weak economic reports in the first quarter, although these data were generally viewed as due to "transitory" factors, such as severe winter weather and the West Coast port strike that ended in late February.

The dollar was at 121.20 yen early Thursday, lower than 121.32 yen in New York late Wednesday but still up from 121.02 yen in Tokyo earlier Wednesday.

A weak yen is positive for Japanese exporters as it increases their profits when repatriated.

The euro bought US$1.1104 and 134.59 yen against US$1.1096 and 134.61 yen in US trade.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.15 per cent on Wednesday while the broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.09 per cent.

AFP