Nikkei rises to fresh 5-week high on strong US data, ECB decision

Thu Mar 6, 2014 8:26pm EST

* Investors unwind risk-off positions on weak yen - analyst
    * Volume may be subdued before widely focused U.S. jobs data
analysts

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, March 7 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose
to a new five-week high on Friday morning as a weak yen lifted
risk appetite following
Wall Street's gains on better-than-expected U.S. jobless claims
and the European Central Bank's decision to keep its rates
unchanged.
    The Nikkei gained 1.1 percent to 15,307.78, the
highest since Jan. 29 after rising 1.6 percent on the previous
day. For the week, the index has added 3.1 percent.
    Exporters advanced as the dollar fetched 103.100 yen,
having broken above the 103 yen threshold on Thursday for the
first time since late January.
    "Investors are unwinding their risk-off positions as they
were waiting for the dollar to trade above 103 yen as it has
been hovering below that level lately," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi,
a strategist at Mizuho Securities.
    Sony Corp gained 1.5 percent, Tokyo Electron Ltd
 added 1.7 percent and Canon Inc rose 0.9
percent. A weak yen lifts Japanese exporters' competitiveness
abroad as well as their profits overseas when repatriated.
    The euro traded 142.87 yen after brushing a
two-month high of 142.99 yen after the European Central Bank
left its interest rates unchanged.
    The Topix rose 0.7 percent to 1,236.45, with 30 of
its 33 subsectors in positive territory.
    Analysts said the rally in the stock market may continue
throughout the day, but volume may be subdued before the release
of widely anticipated U.S. jobs data later in the day.
    Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment insurance fell to
323,000, the lowest in three months, a sign of strength in a
labour market that has been hobbled by severe weather.
 
    Friday's nonfarm payrolls report, due at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330
GMT), is expected to show job growth in the United States picked
up enough in February to encourage the Federal Reserve to
continue scaling back its monetary stimulus.
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, an index launched this
year comprising firms with high return on equity and strong
corporate governance, advanced 0.7 percent to 11,193.43.
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