Nikkei ends 3-day losing run as yen plumbs 5-year low vs dollar

Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:29am EST

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.
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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