TOKYO Japan's Nikkei share average rose on Monday, nearing a seven-month high on expectations that a weaker yen will boost earnings for exporters.
Major exporters Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and Canon Inc (7751.T) all rose between 1.4 percent and 2.1 percent and were among the six most-traded stocks on the board by turnover.
The yen has come under pressure on expectations the Bank of Japan will be pushed towards more drastic easing, after the country's opposition party, tipped to win next month's election, urged radical monetary stimulus to beat deflation.
The dollar traded at 82.35 yen on Monday, near an eight-month high around 82.84 set last week.
By the midday break, the Nikkei .N225 added 0.6 percent to 9,425.06. If the index touches the 9,500 mark, it will reach its highest level since April 27.
Exporters with high exposure to the euro zone such as Mazda Motor Corp (7267.T) and Nikon Corp (7731.T) also gained after the euro climbed against the yen on Monday morning, buoyed by hopes that Greece will secure further funds to meet its debt obligations.
The euro rose as high as 107.10 yen on trading platform EBS, its highest level since late April.
Mazda gained 1.4 percent and Nikon added 1.7 percent.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was confident a deal could be reached to release aid to Greece, while the French finance minister said a deal was close. Euro zone finance ministers will meet later on Monday.
"Although some investors are cautious about fast-paced gains in the Japanese market, they will likely stay buyers on the back of the improving trading environment in the global market," said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities.
BOTH VOLUME AND VALUE CATCH UP
Last week's average daily trading volume was high, with 1.94 billion shares changing hands in the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section, up 9 percent from the previous week. Daily trading value was also positive, with 1.15 trillion yen of shares traded, up about 13 percent on the previous week.
Traders said that investors, who were underweight of Japanese stocks, continued to pour new money in to the Japanese market on the back or the weakening yen.
The Nikkei has risen about 11.5 percent so far this year, putting its performance on a par with the U.S. S&P 500's .INX 12.05 percent rise and the pan-European STOXX Europe 600's 11.77 percent gain.
"On top of ongoing optimism about a weak yen, sentiment is also positive before the holiday shopping season in the U.S.," said Hideyuki Okoshi, general manager at Chibagin Securities. "Japanese shares have co-relation to U.S. consumer spending."
The U.S Christmas shopping season kicked off on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Since Japanese exporters' earnings rely on U.S. consumer spending, sentiment is generally positive around this time of the year, analysts said.
The U.S. National Retail Federation expects sales during the holiday season to grow 4.1 percent this year compared with last year's 5.6 percent increase.
Among other shares, the upbeat sentiment pushed brokerage shares Nomura Holdings (8604.T) up 1.8 percent to a seven-month high and rival Daiwa Securities (8601.T) 1.9 percent higher.
Shares of embattled Renesas Electronics Corp (6723.T) jumped 11 percent after the Nikkei reported that its shareholders have approved a government-led bailout.
Sony Corp (6758.T) and Panasonic Corp (6752.T) underperformed, falling 1.2 percent and flat respectively after credit rating agency Fitch downgraded their debt ratings to "junk" status on Friday.
The broader Topix .TOPX added 0.8 percent to 782.95.
(Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Eric Meijer)
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