Nikkei near 6-year high on yen weakness

Nov 28, 2013, 5:48 AM EST
People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013.
(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

HONG KONG (AP) — Japanese stocks zoomed to their highest in almost six years Thursday as the yen sank, leading a broader advance by Asian markets after U.S. benchmarks rose to record levels.

The Nikkei 225 finished at its highest since early December 2007 after advancing 1.8 percent to close at 15,727.12. The benchmark's surge has been driven by the Japanese currency's slump to its lowest in half a year. The dollar strengthened to as high as 102.25 yen during the day. Traders are betting on more monetary easing from the central bank as it tries to revive the world's third biggest economy.

Japan's powerhouse exporters will be the biggest beneficiaries of the yen's weakness, as buyers with dollars will find it cheaper to purchase cars and electronics made by export manufacturers such as Toyota and Sony.

Most other Asian benchmarks also finished higher, taking their lead from U.S. indexes, which hit record highs again Wednesday thanks to the latest positive economic and earnings reports.

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8 percent to 2,045.77 and China's Shanghai Composite added 0.8 percent to 2,219.37. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up less than 0.1 percent to 5,334.30.

The Philippines PSE Composite index soared nearly 2 percent after the government reported that the economy grew 7 percent in the third quarter. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand and India also gained.

However, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid in the final hour of trading to close 0.1 percent lower at 23,789.09 after investors sold off a few major Chinese companies including oil companies Sinopec and PetroChina and China Construction Bank.

Thai stocks declined as investors took profits a day after rising on a surprise interest rate cut by the central bank.

European stocks were mostly higher in early trading. Germany's DAX advanced 0.2 percent to 9366.97 while France's CAC 40 edged 0.1 percent higher to 4,297.54. The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies was dipped 0.1 percent to 6,643.94.

U.S. financial markets will be closed for Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday. The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq will also close early on Friday.

In currencies, the dollar was trading at 102.15 yen. The euro rose to $1.3600 from $1.3572 late Wednesday.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was up 2 cents to $92.32 in electronic trading on the on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.38 to close at $92.30 a barrel on Wednesday.