Nikkei ends 3-day losing run as yen plumbs 5-year low vs dollar
TOKYO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - The Nikkei stock average ended a three-day run of losses on Friday as the yen slumped to a five-year low against the dollar following strong U.S. retail sales data, lifting the appeal of Japanese equities. The Nikkei finished 0.4 percent higher at 15,403.11 and was up 0.7 percent for the week, while the broader Topix index closed down 0.3 percent at 1,238.88. Trading volume on the benchmark Nikkei surged to a five-month high, with 2.46 billion shares changing hands largely due to settlement of December futures and options in a closely watched major "SQ", or special quotation. The Osaka Securities Exchange announced after the market close that the Nikkei special quotation was settled at 15,303.19. Japanese stocks tend to flourish when the yen weakens, as exporters benefit from a cheaper currency when they repatriate overseas earnings. Domestic-focused firms, however, face higher bills for imported goods and materials. The yen hit a five-year low of 103.925 yen to the dollar on Friday, as upbeat U.S. retail sales heightened expectations the Federal Reserve will soon unwind its stimulus. Driven by Tokyo's aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus, the benchmark Nikkei is up 48 percent this year, on track for its best yearly rise since 1972. Despite the sharp rally this year, volatility has also increased dramatically. The Nikkei has had 59 sessions where intraday swings exceeded 2.5 percent, compared with four such days in the whole of 2012 - though still way off 101 sessions in 2008 during the global financial crisis. The S&P 500 only had two such trading days in 2013, and the Euro STOXX 50 index had 16.
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