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Tokyo: Stocks close 1.24% higher


[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks closed 1.24 per cent higher on Wednesday, boosted by record-setting gains on Wall Street and a weak yen in thin post-holiday trade.

The Nikkei 225 index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 219.09 points to finish at 17,854.23, while the Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 0.92 per cent, or 12.97 points, to 1,426.02.

The Japanese market's buoyant performance came after the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 18,000 for the first time ever Tuesday on the back of strong US economic growth data.

The Dow finished up 0.36 per cent at 18,024.17, continuing a so-called "Santa Claus rally" that began after last week's US Federal Reserve meeting, when policymakers hinted they were still on track for a mid-2015 interest rate hike.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department raised its estimate for third-quarter US growth from 3.9 per cent to 5.0 per cent, the best since 2003.

The dollar rose against other currencies as the strong growth report raised expectations for the Fed rate rise.

On Wednesday, the greenback bought 120.33 yen, slipping from 120.71 yen in New York but still up from 120.13 yen in Asian trade on Tuesday.

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

Shinzo Abe was re-elected as Japan's prime minister by parliament on Wednesday and is expected to announce a similar cabinet to help re-ignite the world's number three economy following his mid-December election triumph.

In individual shares, Toyota rose 1.61 per cent to 7,657.0 yen while Canon was up 0.96 per cent at 4,028.0 yen.

Skymark Airlines rose 2.50 per cent to 327.0 yen, after diving more than 16 per cent on Monday on news that Airbus was moving closer to filing a lawsuit against the struggling carrier over a failed US$2.2 billion jet order.

Sony was up 3.98 per cent at 2,568.5 yen after its Hollywood studio said it would screen madcap comedy "The Interview" in some US theatres on Christmas Day.

That was a dramatic U-turn after Sony Pictures' widely criticised decision to cancel the film following a cyber-assault blamed on North Korea.