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Tokyo: Stocks open higher after Wall St gains

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[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks opened slightly higher on Tuesday, with sentiment supported by a lower yen and gains on Wall Street following signs of easing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.  

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.18 per cent, or 40.36 points, to 22,906.22 in early trade after three days of rises while the broader Topix index was up 0.28 per cent, or 5.13 points, at 1,811.05. 

“US stocks climbed, providing support” to the Japanese market, said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.  But it was “inevitable” there would be some profit-taking after seven consecutive weeks of gains for the Nikkei, he added.  
Wall Street was buoyed by hopes of easing US-China trade tensions on Monday.  

A Sunday tweet from US President Donald Trump that American and Chinese officials were working to get Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE “back into business, fast,” helped soothe some investors’ nerves.  Investors will be keeping a close eye on US-China trade discussions, with President Xi Jinping’s top economics official, Vice-Premier Liu He, visiting Washington.  

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Ahead of the meetings, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday he was exploring “alternative remedies” for ZTE, which was hit with a seven-year ban last month on acquiring crucial US technology, causing it to cease operations.  

The dollar firmed to 109.75 yen from 109.65 yen in New York Monday and around 109.50 yen in Tokyo earlier, in a positive sign for Japanese exporters.  
In individual stocks, banks were trading higher, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group jumping 3.25 per cent to 4,701 yen after it announced annual profit growth. 

Mitsubishi UFJ rose 1.17 per cent to 733.2 yen and Mizuho gained 0.90 per cent to 201.5 yen ahead of their earnings reports after the market close Tuesday.  Sony fell 0.51 per cent to 5,262 yen and Panasonic lost 0.42 per cent to 1,626.5 yen. 

AFP