Tokyo stocks finish higher Friday

TOKYO (AP) - Tokyo stocks finished at another eight-month high on Friday amid continued hopes for an economic recovery in Japan.  

The U.S. dollar was up against the Japanese yen and the euro. 

The Nikkei Stock Average of 225 selected issues gained 16.59 points, or 0.14 percent, to close at 11,873.05 points - its highest closing since the July 1, 2004, finish of 11,896.01. 

The index now has risen a total of 372.87 points, or 3.24 percent, over the last seven trading sessions, including Thursday's gains of 42.75 points, or 0.36 percent. 

The dollar was trading at 105.46 yen at 3 p.m. (0600 GMT) Friday, up 0.33 yen from late Thursday in Tokyo and above the 105.23 yen it bought in New York later that day. 

On the stock market, the Nikkei index met mild profit-taking in morning session but moved into positive territory in afternoon trading, with investors taking bullish sentiment toward the economy. 

A spate of recent economic data fueled optimism about a rebound in the world's second largest economy from a recession last year. 

Encouraging economic data included a pickup in consumer spending and a better job outlook. 

Steelmakers Kobe Steel Ltd., JEF Holdings Inc. and Tokyo Steel MFG Co. rose, as did nonferrous metal issues Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co., and Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. 

Many players were awaiting closely watched U.S. February jobs data, to be released later Friday. 

The broader TOPIX, which includes all issues on the Tokyo market's first section, added 2.59 points, or 0.22 percent, to finish Friday's trading at 1,192.11. 

The TOPIX gained 3.81 points, or 0.32 percent, the day before. 

In currencies, the dollar rose against the yen in Tokyo on the view that U.S. economic data due later Friday, may show a solid U.S. job growth. 

U.S. nonfarm payrolls for February are expected to have increased by a median 220,000, according to economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires. 

In January, nonfarm payrolls grew by 146,000. 

"If February U.S. payrolls come in around 300,000 then the dollar may top 106.00 yen, which would pave the way for 107.00,'' said Minoru Shioiri, senior manager of the treasury and foreign exchange division at Mitsubishi Securities. 

The euro fell to US$1.3101 Friday afternoon in Tokyo from US$1.3135 late Thursday and to 138.16 yen from 138.05 yen. 

The yield on Japan's benchmark 10-year government bond fell to 1.5200 percent, from Thursday's finish of 1.5300 percent. Its price rose 0.09 point to 99.82. - AP

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