June 8, 2020 / 6:47 AM / a month ago

Japanese shares at 3-1/2-month high as U.S. data boosts recovery hopes

SYDNEY, June 8 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks climbed to a fresh 3-1/2-month high on Monday after a surprise increase in U.S. employment gave investors further confidence of a swift global economic recovery from a coronavirus-triggered slump.

The benchmark Nikkei average advanced 1.4% to 23,178.10 points, its highest closing level since Feb. 21.

All three major indexes on the Wall Street gained more than 2% on Friday, after the May employment report showed the U.S. economy unexpectedly added 2.5 million jobs last month, providing evidence that it was headed for a quicker-than-anticipated recovery.

Reflecting continued confidence in the revival of the global economy, the safe-haven yen weakened further, with the dollar/yen hitting a 2-1/2-month high of 109.85 yen late Friday.

As a weaker yen boosts Japanese manufacturers’ profits made abroad when repatriated, shares of export-oriented automakers were in demand, with Nissan and Mazda jumping 7.8% and 5.7%, respectively.

Longer-term U.S. Treasury yields surged on Friday, providing a tailwind for Tokyo-listed financial stocks . Dai-ichi Life Holdings climbed 6.5% and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) added 4.5%.

Elsewhere, oil-related companies were higher as oil prices advanced after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and allies agreed on Saturday to extend record oil production cuts until the end of July.

Japan’s top oil and gas exploration companies Inpex and Japan Petroleum Exploration (Japex) gained 5.1% and 3.8%, respectively, while oil wholesalers JXTG Holdings and Idemitsu Kosan Showa Shell surged 2.7% and 3.0%, respectively.

The broader Topix rose 1.1% to 1,630.72, its highest closing since Feb. 21, with all but three of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange finishing higher.

The market, however, did not react to Japan’s revised GDP data that showed a slightly stronger-than-expected capital expenditure. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Aditya Soni)

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