Tokyo stocks close 0.37% higher

Friday, Feb 20, 2015 15:58


Tokyo stocks finished 0.37 percent higher on Friday, extending gains after hitting a 15-year high in the previous session, as investors await crucial talks on Greece's debt later in the day.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange ended 67.51 points higher at 18,332.30, while the Topix index of all first-section shares added 0.36 percent, or 5.40 points, to finish at 1,500.33.

"With excess liquidity globally, and with Japanese stocks starting to look profitable after they went through a critical juncture, investors are more likely to take risks," Masayuki Doshida, a senior market analyst at Rakuten Economic Research Institute, told Bloomberg News.

But he added: "The gains look too quick and as it starts to feel top heavy selling is going to take priority."

Focus is now on Europe, where finance ministers from the 19 eurozone states hold a meeting in Brussels to consider a proposal by Athens to extend its loan programme, which expires at the end of the month.

Germany threw a spanner in the works Thursday when it dismissed a proposal by Greece to apply for six-month extension that was free of painful austerity measures, just moments after the European Union had hailed it as a step in the right direction.

However, German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said later that while the offer fell short, "it must be used as a starting point for negotiations".

And Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras by telephone for nearly an hour, which a Greek government source said was made in a "positive climate".

Doshida said "the main scenario for Greece is that in the end it'll be able to receive a concession".

In Tokyo, Japan Display shares jumped 5.39 percent to 488.0 yen amid reports that the company was mulling the construction of a new plant to supply smartphone screens to Apple.

Factory robotics maker Fanuc rose 1.20 percent to 23,285.0 yen, Toyota was up 1.00 percent to 8,078.0 yen, while market heavyweight Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain, fell 0.36 percent to 42,910.0 yen.

Bankrupt Skymark Airlines, which will be delisted from the Tokyo exchange next month, jumped 44.44 percent to 39.0 yen after reports that major Japanese travel agency H.I.S. has applied to extend support to the struggling carrier.

On currency markets, the dollar was slightly lower at 118.87 yen, from 118.94 yen in New York.--AFP

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