Tokyo shares close up 0.48pc

August 25, 2014 - 10:30:40 am

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed up 0.48 percent on Monday as investors welcomed the dollar's rise following US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's defence of the central bank's monetary policy.

The Nikkei 225 index gained 74.06 points to 15,613.25. The Topix index of all first-section issues was up 0.41 percent, or 5.24 points, at 1,291.31.

The dollar jumped to 104.18 yen -- its highest level since January -- from 103.87 yen in New York Friday, while the euro bought $1.3203 and 137.56 yen, against $1.3241 and 137.60 yen.

The greenback firmed after Yellen, in a speech at the Jackson Hole conference in Wyoming, discussed slack seen in the US jobs market while acknowledging improvements in recent US indicators.

Her address was seen as a signal of her commitment to the Fed's current timeline for raising interest rates beginning in the second half of next year, rather than earlier, as some analysts and policy makers would like.

Still, the dollar swung upward as market players believed that her comment came out less dovish than expected, while many analysts also assessed the speech as being "balanced".

Some investors have begun preparing for the eventual rise in official short-term interest rates, analysts said.

"Yellen's comments were very careful and neutral in nature, and as such did not necessarily tip the Fed's hand either way with regard to a prevailing stance on policy," said Mizuho Securities senior technical analyst Yutaka Miura.

"The underlying trend on yen weakening remains unbroken -- despite little movement in long-term US interest rates after Yellen's speech," Miura said.

A weak yen is good for Japanese exporters, making them more competitive overseas and inflating repatriated profits.

Wall Street stocks Friday finished mostly lower following the Yellen speech and ongoing worries over Ukraine.

The Dow fell 0.22 percent, the S&P 500 shed 0.20 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.14 percent.

In Tokyo trade, Sony rose 0.89 percent to 1,972.0 yen after the Japanese entertainment giant said its online music and gaming sites had been the subject of a cyber attack, although users' personal information had not been compromised.

Toyota rose 0.70 percent to 5,985.0 yen, but Nissan fell 0.14 percent to 1,013.5 yen. (AFP)