TOKYO: Tokyo stocks ended slightly higher on Thursday as banks and exporters chalked up gains thanks to a weaker yen, but Toshiba retreated as it faced a court battle over the $18 billion sale of its prized memory chip business.
The dollar pushed to two-month highs against the Japanese unit after the US Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would begin to unwind its crisis-era stimulus programme and hinted at another rate hike this year.
The yen was also weighed by the Bank of Japan’s decision Thursday to keep its ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged.
In Asian afternoon trading, the dollar fetched 112.42 yen, up from 112.15 yen in New York and 111.50 yen seen earlier Wednesday in Asia.
A cheaper yen makes Japan’s exporters more competitive overseas and boosts their repatriated profits.
Tokyo’s benchmark index squeaked out a fresh two-year high but gains were capped after a sharp rise earlier this week.
The Nikkei 225 index added 0.18 percent, or 37.02 points, to close at 20,347.48, while the broader Topix index lost most of its early gains to end 0.05 percent, or 0.82 points, higher at 1,668.74.
“Shares are taking a breather after recent days of rallies, with the Nikkei approaching the 20,500 mark,” Hideyuki Suzuki, head of investment information at SBI Securities, told AFP.
Toyota gained 0.52 percent to 6,738 yen while Honda climbed 0.63 percent to 3,331 yen.
Bank stocks also rallied, with Mitsubishi UFJ jumping 1.71 percent to 719.4 yen and Sumitomo Mitsui rising 0.58 percent to 4,294 yen.
Toshiba sank 1.58 percent to 310 yen, having dived more than five percent at one point, following the announcement it would sell its chip business.
But its US partner Western Digital vowed to keep fighting to block the deal, which is seen as crucial to the Japanese industrial conglomerate’s survival.—AFP