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Tokyo stocks close up 0.48%

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TOKYO, Nov 30 AFP

November 30 2012, 6:31PM

Tokyo stocks have closed 0.48 per cent higher as a weakening yen boosted exporters while investors looked to Washington for progress on talks to avert the fiscal cliff.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday added 45.13 points to 9,446.01, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 0.26 per cent, or 2.02 points, to 781.46.

"Stock prices rose, led by the yen's drop," said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equities at SMBC Nikko Securities.

The Nikkei was up nearly one per cent in late morning trade, but gave up part of the gains towards the close as a result of weekend and month-end profit taking, he said.

The Tokyo market was also buoyed by optimism over the US economy, with talks on averting the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts under way in Washington and a US estimate of third-quarter economic growth revised upward.

Markets reacted little to a batch of Japan's October economic data that showed industrial production logged a surprise 1.8 per cent rise last month with the unemployment rate holding steady.

Also on Friday, Japan's cabinet approved a $US10.7 billion ($A10.30 billion) economic stimulus package, just weeks before an election the ruling party is expected to lose, but analysts questioned its likely benefits.

The new spending was more than double a package announced in October as the country gets set for polls that most say will usher in Japan's seventh prime minister in six years.

"While (the package) wouldn't be a poison, it wouldn't be a medicine either," Masamichi Adachi, a senior economist at JPMorgan Securities, told Dow Jones Newsiwires.

Among major exporters Nissan Motor climbed 0.88 per cent to Y799 and Canon was up 1.19 per cent at Y2,883.

Hitachi jumped 4.15 per cent to Y476 and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries rose 2.95 per cent to Y383 after the pair announced on Thursday that they would merge their thermal power businesses.

In forex trading late on Friday, the dollar firmed to Y82.39 from Y82.10 in New York late on Thursday.

The euro, which earlier on Friday hit a new seven-month high of Y107.27, was at Y107.l7 from Y106.58 in US trade, while it also bought $US1.3004 from $US1.2978.