Japanese stocks jump on yen weakness as Asian stocks gain on US benchmark highs

HONG KONG – Japanese stocks jumped Thursday as the yen lingered near a six-month low, leading a broader advance by Asian markets after U.S. benchmarks rose to record levels.

The Nikkei 225 advanced 1.2 per cent to 15,631.35, driven by the Japanese currency’s slump as traders bet 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.

South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.7 per cent to 2,043.51 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.5 per cent to 23,929.42.

China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.7 per cent to 2,217.31. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.2 per cent to 5,342.90. Markets in Southeast Asia also gained.

Asian stocks took their lead from U.S. indexes, which hit record highs again Wednesday thanks to some positive economic and earnings reports.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 per cent to a record 16,097.33 in its longest winning streak since March. The Standard & Poor’s 500 climbed 0.3 per cent to an all-time high of 1,807.23. The Nasdaq composite was up 0.7 per cent to 4,044.75.

Trading volumes were lower than average ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, when U.S. financial markets will be closed. The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq will also close early on Friday.

In currencies, the dollar slipped to 102.04 Japanese yen, but not far off its earlier six-month high of 102.17 yen. The euro rose to $1.3574 from $1.3572 in late trading Wednesday.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was down 12 cents to $92.18 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.