March 1, 2017 / 6:53 AM / 5 months ago

Japan's Nikkei rises to 2-week high; focus shifts to U.S. rates

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TOKYO, March 1 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rose on Wednesday to two-week highs as investors covered positions with the focus shifting to U.S. monetary policy after President Donald Trump's speech to Congress offered no details or surprises on the policy front.

The Nikkei share average ended 1.4 percent higher at 19,393.54, its highest close since Feb. 15, as investors covered their positions, with the lack of negative factors in Trump's speech providing some relief.

Trump pledged to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, improve jobs and wages, and promised "massive" tax relief to the middle class and tax cuts for companies.

Meanwhile, the dollar gained on growing expectations of a U.S. interest rate hike this month, and traders said market attention has shifted to future U.S. monetary policy.

"Japanese stocks will likely take cues from U.S. yield moves and dollar-yen levels in the next few weeks," said Chihiro Ohta, general manager of investment research at SMBC Nikko Securities.

The broader Topix gained 1.2 percent to 1,553.09 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 rose 1.2 percent to 13,917.46. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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