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Tokyo stocks close up 2.86 per cent

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TOKYO, Jan 18 AFP

January 18 2013, 8:34PM

Tokyo stocks soared 2.86 per cent on Friday to a 33-month high, boosted by a weaker yen, upbeat Chinese economic data and solid gains on Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed up 303.66 points at 10,913.30, its highest since April 2010, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares was up 2.36 per cent, or 20.98 points, at 911.44.

Markets benefited from a steep fall in the yen sparked by reports that the Bank of Japan will announce fresh monetary easing at its two-day policy board meeting next week.

BoJ governor Masaaki Shirakawa met Finance Minister Taro Aso and economic revitalisation minister Akira Amari on Friday over a possible accord on setting a two per cent inflation target to beat the deflation that has haunted the economy for years.

The market is hoping the central bank will further expand its 101 trillion yen ($A1.07 trillion) asset-buying program, its main policy tool with rates at near zero.

"Stocks have the look of a 'bungee market' that tracks the yen's volatility," an equity trading director at a foreign brokerage told Dow Jones Newswires.

On currency markets, the greenback bought 90.10 yen, against 89.86 yen in New York on Thursday, while the euro fetched 120.63 yen against 120.20 yen.

US stocks closed higher Thursday after US data pointed to an improving employment and housing picture.

Sentiment was also boosted after official data Friday showed China's economy grew 7.9 per cent in the final three months of 2012, snapping seven straight quarters of slowing growth, although the economy grew at its slowest pace in 13 years on an annual basis.

In Tokyo trade, Sony soared 12.20 per cent to 1149 yen, as it announced the $US1.1 billion sale of its US headquarters in Manhattan and after Goldman Sachs upped the stock to neutral from sell.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group added 2.76 per cent to 484 yen, Honda was up 3.14 per cent at 3440 yen and Nikon gained 5.77 per cent to 2675 yen.

Shares in firms linked to Boeing's Dreamliner safety issues were mixed.

All Nippon Airways fell 1.10 per cent to 179 yen, while its rival Japan Airlines, also a major Boeing customer, dropped 0.94 per cent to 3650 yen.

Battery supplier GS Yuasa, however, rose 3.27 per cent to 315 yen.

A Boeing 787 operated by All Nippon Airways was forced to make an emergency landing on Wednesday over battery-linked safety issues that led to the grounding of the aircraft worldwide and sparked probes by aviation regulators.