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TOKYO, Nov 22 AFP

November 22 2012, 7:15PM

Tokyo shares soared to their highest close in more than six months Thursday as a weaker yen boosted markets amid speculation that the Bank of Japan will launch further economy-boosting easing.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed 1.56 per cent, or 144.28 points, higher at 9,366.80, its best finish since early May. The broader Topix index of all first-section issues was up 1.23 per cent, or 9.42 points, at 776.43.

Speculation of further easing by the Bank of Japan has weighed on the yen, which has been cheered by investors as it makes the nation's exporters more competitive overseas, brokers said.

Expectations the central bank will again loosen monetary policy have been fuelled further by data showing the worst October trade figures in more than 30 years.

That came after opposition leader Shinzo Abe said last week that he would pressure the central bank for aggressive easing measures if his party wins next month's general election, as expected.

On the foreign exchange market, the dollar changed hands at 82.49 yen Thursday afternoon, compared with 82.59 yen in earlier trade - its highest level for about seven months - and 82.51 yen in US trading.