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TOKYO: Japan’s Nikkei share average rose on Friday, as technology stocks rallied tracking gains in Wall Street peers overnight and banks advanced on expectations that the country’s central bank could exit negative interest rates as soon as this month.

The Nikkei 0.9% to 39,935.24 by the midday break. Chip-making equipment giant Tokyo Electron was up 3%, adding roughly 114 points to the Nikkei’s 336.53-point gain.

Chip-testing equipment maker Advantest gained 3%, and artificial intelligence-focused startup investor SoftBank Group was up 2.5%.

The banking industry sub-index jumped 2.24% on speculation that the Bank of Japan (BOJ) could normalise policy at its meeting on March 18-19, after fresh comments from central bank officials on Thursday.

The sub-index was set for weekly gains of 6.2%, its best performance since September. Still, the Nikkei has lost some momentum this week after crossing the 40,000 level for the first time ever on Monday, as profit-taking set in and a strengthened yen weighed on exporter shares.

Auto firms slid on a strong yen, including Toyota Motor , down 0.5%, and Suzuki Motor, falling 2.2%.

Tokyo stocks end lower as yen strengthens

Traders were making some corrections in exporter stocks as they prepared for the BOJ’s meeting, said Naka Matsuzawa, chief macro strategist at Nomura.

“Investors don’t know how much of a rebound (in yen) will come after the policy change, so they don’t get side-lined.” A weaker yen makes Japanese exports more competitive and boosts the value of overseas revenue.

The Japanese currency saw its biggest jump versus the dollar this year on Thursday.

The Nikkei remained close to snapping a string of five consecutive weekly gains, as it shattered the 1989 record high last month. It was down 0.7% for the week.

The broader Topix was up 0.6% at 2734.62 by the midday break.

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