Tokyo stocks up 0.69% by break

Tokyo stocks gained 0.69 percent Wednesday morning as investor sentiment improved after key indexes on Wall Street hit their highest levels in more than five years.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange was up 78.99 points to 11,451.33 by the break while the Topix index of all first-section issues rose 0.84 percent, or 8.05 points, to 971.66.

"The correction phase may be over," Hiroaki Osakabe, fund manager at Chibagin Asset Management, said after the benchmark Nikkei briefly rose past the 11,500 mark for the first time since September 2008.

"This may not necessarily mean a big range break but it confirmed that the rising trend will continue," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Brokers said investors were heartened by the rise in US stocks and news of soaring investor sentiment in Germany.

The Dow finished up 0.39 percent at 14,035.67, its highest level since October 12, 2007, while the broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.73 percent to 1,530.94 -- its highest level since October 31 of the same year.

Japan's government early Wednesday released data showing the country suffered its worst ever monthly trade deficit of 1.63 trillion yen ($17.4 billion) in January due mainly to higher fuel import bills.

But the market largely discounted the trade data.

Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management, said stocks also rose on a newspaper report that one candidate was off the government list for prospective new chief of the Bank of Japan (BoJ).

The Yomiuri reported Wednesday that the government had narrowed the list of candidates to four, leaving off Toshiro Muto, former senior official of the finance ministry and also former Bank of Japan deputy governor.

Market players believed the nomination of Muto -- seen as the least dovish candidate on the list -- would boost buying of the Japanese currency, likely pushing down stock prices.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has called for active monetary easing, has disagreed with outgoing BoJ head Masaaki Shirakawa on policy matters and publicly said he he wanted a more like-minded central bank chief.

Exporters were up with expectations of a lower yen. Canon climbed 2.42 percent to 3,375 yen and Toyota Motor was up 1.89 percent to 4,830 yen.

Electronics also rose, with Panasonic up 3.01 percent to 684 yen and NEC up 2.62 percent to 235 yen.

The dollar was at 93.50 yen in Tokyo midday trade against 93.54 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.

The common European currency bought 125.42 yen and $1.3419 compared with 125.24 yen and $1.3390 in US trade.