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Tokyo stocks close 0.41% higher

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Tokyo stocks closed 0.41 percent higher Friday, reversing early losses sparked by profit-taking, and after the government nominated a new Bank of Japan chief known to favour aggressive monetary easing.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended up 47.02 points at 11,606.38 while the Topix index of all first-section shares rose 0.89 percent, or 8.67 points, to 984.33.

The Nikkei opened lower after Wall Street ended in the red following its flirtation with an all-time high.

But the Nikkei finished in positive territory "as investors selectively chased stocks such as real estate firms, indicating that the recent bullish trend is still alive", said Masatoshi Sato, senior strategist with Mizuho Securities.

A weakening yen also helped boost Japan's premier bourse, brokers said.

"The yen remains the critical determinant, and stock prices remain very sensitive to foreign exchange levels," Okasan Securities strategist Hideyuki Ishiguro told Dow Jones Newswires.

On forex markets, the dollar was buying 92.61 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade against 92.58 yen in New York Thursday afternoon, while the euro fetched 121.10 yen from 120.95 yen.

On Thursday, Tokyo nominated as BoJ governor a finance veteran who backs Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's hard-driving agenda to reverse decades of economic gloom.

The widely expected appointment of Asian Development Bank head Haruhiko Kuroda is likely to stoke further speculation of more aggressive easing measures -- which tend to push the yen down -- to boost the economy.

Weighing on sentiment were weak fourth-quarter US economic data and the expected onset of steep US government spending cuts Friday, renewing concerns over the wider impact on the global economy.

In Tokyo trade Sony climbed 3.88 percent to 1,390 yen and copier-maker Canon was up 0.29 percent at 3,375 yen.

Toyota shares slipped 0.31 percent to 4,750 yen as the world's biggest automaker said its sales in China during the first two months of the year slipped 13.3 percent on-year owing to slow sales during the Chinese New Year holiday.

A consumer boycott of Japanese products stemming from a Tokyo-Beijing territorial dispute also hurt demand.

Tokyo Electric Power up 2.85 percent to 216 yen on hopes that nuclear reactors switched off after the 2011 Fukushima disaster would be switched back on. Abe said Thursday his government would allow reactor restarts if their safety is confirmed.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130301/tokyo-stocks-close-041-higher-0