Tokyo stocks close at two-month high
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TOKYO, Nov 19 AFP
November 19 2012, 6:37PM
Tokyo stocks have closed at a two-month high, adding 1.43 per cent after the front-runner to become Japan's next prime minister said he would push for further monetary easing if elected.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange ended up 129.04 points at 9,153.20, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares rose 1.44 per cent, or 10.82 points, to 762.16.
Japan's main opposition leader Shinzo Abe, tipped to become prime minister after a December 16 election, last week called for "unlimited" easing by the Bank of Japan (BoJ), and vowed to strike a deal with the bank over further policy measures.
The comments from Abe, who is seen by investors as business friendly, has put pressure on the yen as easing tends to weigh on a national currency.
Hopes for political change and measures that would inject new life into the slowing Japanese economy, the world's third-largest, helped boost the Tokyo market, while the weaker yen also lent support, dealers said.
"Active overseas hedge funds have continued to trigger broad buying on enthusiasm over the potential for a political regime change to an ostensibly more business and market-friendly Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)," said Tachibana Securities market analyst Kenichi Hirano.
Abe is tipped to unseat Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his centre-left Democratic Party of Japan as the ruling party's fortunes have sunk in opinion polls.
"Japan stocks remain undervalued, so the current rally may still have legs," Monex market analyst Toshiyuki Kanayama told Dow Jones Newswires.
"With the Nikkei already having broken though its October high, the September high mark of 9,288 is now the target to watch."
Gains were led by exporters, with Canon surging 4.44 per cent at Y2,817, while Toyota rose 1.35 per cent to Y3,370 and construction equipment maker Komatsu was up 3.42 per cent at Y1,812.
Japan Tobacco jumped 6.53 per cent to Y2,411 after the government said it would delay selling down part of its stake in the firm owing to choppy markets and a possible political leadership change.
On currency markets, the dollar bought Y81.27, against Y81.31 in New York, while the euro fetched Y103.75 against Y103.6.
The euro bought $US1.2764 against $US1.2741 in New York.