Roundup: Tokyo stocks close sharply higher on 1st trading day of year as weaker yen lifts exporters

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TOKYO, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index closed sharply higher Tuesday, the first trading day of 2022, as U.S. shares rising overnight and a weak yen boosted risk appetite and saw exporters advance.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 510.08 points, or 1.77 percent, from Thursday to close the day at 29,301.79, marking its highest closing level since Nov. 25.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, added 37.89 points, or 1.90 percent, to finish at 2,030.22.

Traders here said that along with exporters gaining on the yen's soft tone versus the U.S. dollar, technology-oriented issues found favor following Wall Street's solid overnight showing.

"The U.S. market's strong finish lifted investor sentiment in Japan. Investors tend to buy heavyweights when the sentiment is strong. That explains why chip-related shares led the gains," Kentaro Hayashi, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities, was quoted as saying.

Local brokers pointed out that the U.S. dollar hitting its highest level since January 2017 in the upper 115 yen zone, on hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve will hike its interest rate at an early juncture, saw risk appetite improve and stocks widely exposed to overseas markets snapped up.

Export-related issues tend to find favor when the yen hit its weak versus its major counterparts as overseas profits are augmented when repatriated and overall competitiveness enhanced, dealers here also said.

"(The U.S. dollar) was also pushed up on increased risk appetite, with investors motivated to buy the U.S. dollar in tandem with a surge in Tokyo stocks," Yuji Saito, head of the foreign exchange department at Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank, was quoted as saying.

Official figures showing Monday that 782 new COVID-19 cases were reported nationwide, with Tokyo's tally on the same day topping the 100-mark for the first time in about three months, failed to dampen the market mood, traders said, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant is reportedly less likely to cause carriers to be hospitalized.

By the close of play, issues that rose outpaced those that fell by 1,625 to 494 on the First Section, while 64 ended the day unchanged, with marine transportation, transportation equipment and insurance issues gaining the most.

Among exporters rising on the yen's weakness, Suzuki Motor gained 2.1 percent, while Mazda Motor climbed 5.8 percent. Nissan Motor, meanwhile, ended the day accelerating 6.2 percent.

Heavily weighted chip issues advanced, with Advantest and Shin-Etsu Chemical both closing around 3.7 percent higher, while Tokyo Electron added 3.2 percent by the close.

Nikkei heavyweight Softbank Group weighed on the market, however, ending the day 0.9 percent lower.

On the main section on Tuesday, 1,109.93 million shares changed hands, rising from Thursday's volume of 729.84 million shares.

The turnover on the first trading day of the year came to 2,759.86 billion yen (23.84 billion U.S. dollars). Enditem

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