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Tokyo shares start 2017 on higher note

WT24 Desk

TOKYO – Tokyo shares opened higher Wednesday on the first trading day of 2017, following gains on Wall Street driven by optimism about the US economy,AFP reports. The dollar’s gain also perked up sentiment.

Troubled autoparts maker Takata jumped more than 17 percent in early trade, as investors reacted to reports that it was close to settling a US criminal probe into an exploding airbag scandal.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 0.96 percent or 184.31 points to 19,298.68 in the first minute of trading as local investors returned after the new year break.

The broader Topix index of all first-section issues also added 0.96 percent or 14.65 points to 1,533.26. The dollar stood at 117.90 yen, up from 117.75 in New York overnight and sharply higher from 116.80 seen in Tokyo on Friday, before Japanese traders took their new year holiday.

While the Tokyo market was closed Tuesday, investors in other international bourses largely gained, thanks to bright global economic indicators pointing to further growth, particularly in the United States. Shares traded in London reached a new high Tuesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average in New York continued to push towards the 20,000 milestone.

The Tokyo bourse finished 2016 at its highest year-end close in two decades,boosted by expectations for big government spending under US President-elect Donald Trump to further power the world’s biggest economy. But experts also called for caution, as Trump’s politics and policies remain uncertain at best.

“Markets have been rallying quite strongly on this notion of fiscal hope but,as we move into the reality of 2017 and what a Trump presidency will actually look like, there is some risk of fiscal disappointment,” Paul Eitelman, a strategist at Russell Investments, told Bloomberg Radio.

“Any disappointment at this point could be a source of downside risk for markets from here, so we’re incrementally being a bit more cautious,” he said. In Tokyo trading, Takata shot up 17.50 percent or 150 points to 1,007, as investors welcomed news that the Tokyo-based firm was nearing a settlement with the US authorities in connection with allegations of criminal wrongdoing related to its faulty air bags.

Automaker Honda firmed 3.81 percent to 3,545. Mobile carrier SoftBank added 2.16 percent to 7,933. Fast Retailing, operator of casual fashion chain Uniqlo,also climbed 2.90 percent to 650.3.

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