Japanese stocks rose Wednesday to a fresh seven-month high on buying of blue chip stocks and export-oriented shares. The dollar was lower against the yen.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index added 53.96 points, or 0.31 percent, to finish at 17,223.15 points on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Wednesday _ the highest since closing at 17,291.67 points on May 8.
Buying of blue chip stocks on the back of good earnings outlooks helped boost the Nikkei. Exporter stocks also picked up ground following overnight gains on Wall Street in post-holiday trading.
The share price retreat for major steel makers, which reached all-time highs earlier in the day, illustrated investors' cautious stance, however. But traders said their money is moving among a wide range of sectors and should keep the market well-supported near term.
"When the market picked up in October, investors were just buying Japan Inc., but they are now going after a wide range of issues with steel and auto maker shares serving as good pillars," said Cosmo Securities equity strategist Kenichi Azuma.
Overnight in New York, stocks rebounded as lower oil prices encouraged investors to add to their portfolios in the final days of the year. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64.41, or 0.52 percent, to 12,407.63.
Toyota Motor Corp. was among Tokyo's winners, adding 1.9 percent to 7,920 yen (US$66.68; euro50.55) after reports that the company's chief executive met last week in Tokyo with his counterpart from U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co.
Other winners included Honda Motor Co., up 1.09 percent to 4,630 yen (US$38.98; euro29.55), as well as electronics makers Sony Corp. _ up 0.98 percent to 5,120 yen (US$43.10; euro32.67) _ and NEC Corp., which added 1.98 percent to 565 yen (US$4.76; euro3.61).
Tokyo's broader Topix index, which includes all shares on the exchange's first section, added 4.50 points, or 0.27 percent, to 1,676.95 points Wednesday. The Topix rose 7.58 points, or 0.46 percent, the day before.
First-section volume fell to 1,664 billion share from Tuesday's 1.718 billion shares.
Advancers beat decliners 983 to 598 while 130 issues unchanged.
In currencies, the U.S. dollar was trading at 118.70 yen on the Tokyo foreign exchange market at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT) Wednesday, down from 119.18 yen from late Tuesday in New York. The euro rose to US$1.3154 from US$1.3096.
The 10-year Japanese government bond was unquoted Wednesday, as problems with various electronic trading systems were slowing bond deals with players unable to see the latest prices. It was not immediately clear if the problems were related to communications difficulties being experienced around Asia following the Taiwan earthquake overnight.
The bond finished at 1.5650 percent at a price of 101.16 on Tuesday.