Tokyo stocks hit 34-yr high in morning on weaker yen

Tokyo stocks rose Friday morning as a weaker yen and good earnings results lifted the shares of major companies, with the Nikkei index topping the 37,000-point threshold for the first time in 34 years.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 166.63 points, or 0.45 percent, from Thursday to 37,029.91. The broader Topix index was down 0.43 point, or 0.02 percent, at 2,562.20. The Nikkei and Topix both briefly reached their highest intraday levels since February 1990.

The U.S. dollar maintained a firmer tone in the lower 149 yen range amid prospects of a widening of the interest rate differential between the United States and Japan due to their central banks' diverging policies. The dollar briefly hit 149.48 yen, its highest level since late November, in New York overnight.

At noon, the dollar fetched 149.30-31 yen compared with 149.28-38 yen in New York and 148.71-73 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The euro was quoted at $1.0776-0777 and 160.89-91 yen against $1.0772-0782 and 160.91-161.01 yen in New York and $1.0780-0781 and 160.32-36 yen in Tokyo late Thursday afternoon.

Exporter issues were buoyed by the yen's weakness, which boosts overseas earnings when repatriated, while chip stocks tracked overnight advances among U.S. counterparts.

The Nikkei's rally was also fueled by heavyweight component SoftBank Group, which surged 10.1 percent after reporting the previous day its first quarterly net profit in more than a year.

The Nikkei gave up some ground and the Topix slipped into negative territory as investors moved to lock in gains.

Kazuo Kamitani, a strategist in the Investment Content Department of Nomura Securities Co., said the market will likely remain capped if the Nikkei stays above 37,000 ahead of Japan's three-day weekend.

© Kyodo News