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Tokyo-Stock-Exchange 400TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed 0.48 percent higher on Friday 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 added 45.13 points to 9,446.01, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 0.26 percent, 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 percent in late morning trade but gave up part of the gains towards the close due to 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 percent rise last month with the unemployment rate holding steady.


Also Friday, Japan's cabinet approved a $10.7 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 percent to 799 yen and Canon was up 1.19 percent at 2,883 yen.


Hitachi jumped 4.15 percent to 476 yen and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries rose 2.95 percent to 383 yen after the pair announced Thursday that they would merge their thermal power businesses.


In forex trading late Friday, the dollar firmed to 82.39 yen from 82.10 yen in New York late Thursday.


The euro, which earlier Friday hit a new seven-month high of 107.27 yen, was at 107.l7 yen from 106.58 yen in US trade, while it also bought $1.3004 from $1.2978.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

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