Asian Markets Update: Japanese Stocks Close at Highest Level in a Month

The Nikkei breaks back over the 17,000 mark amid signs that the economy is strengthening.
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TOKYO -- Buying from domestic pension funds helped kick the

Nikkei 225

index above a key psychological resistance of 17,000 points, helping the benchmark to its highest closing level since May 17.

The Nikkei 225 index rose 302.53 points, or 1.8%, to 17,210.08, while the

Topix

index, which includes all shares listed on the

Tokyo Stock Exchange's

first section, climbed 24.16, or 1.6%, to 1583.945. The

Jasdaq

small-cap index gained 1.08, or 1.2%, to 90.05, while the Nikkei

over-the-counter

index rose 18.72, or 1.1%, to 1769.64.

Also helping sentiment on stocks was news that summer bonuses had increased by 1.2% year-on-year. With Japan's major economic statistics seen as less reliable than those in other developed economies, due to inconsistent sampling techniques, many economists look at bonus figures to see how well corporate Japan may be doing.

After the

Nasdaq Composite

moved above the 4,000 mark overnight, Japanese chip makers benefited.

Hitachi

(HIT)

gained 62 yen, or 4.5%, to 1452 ($13.79),

Tokyo Electron

jumped 550, or 3.7%, to 15,450, while

Matsushita Electric Industrial

(MC) - Get Report

rose 90, or 3.5%, to 2680.

Toshiba

also rose 55, or 5.0%, to 1146 after local reports said the firm would stop making word processors.

Shares listed on

Nasdaq Japan

were mixed on the third day of trading.

Creek & River

lost 380,000, or 12.8%, to 2.6 million,

Honda Verno Tokai

gained 10 to 1360, while

Sugi Pharmacy

climbed 700, or 7.8%, to 9700.

The greenback fell against the yen and fetched 105.33, despite warnings from Japanese government officials today that economic fundamentals did not justify a yen stronger than 105.00 for any reason.

Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index gained 151.40 points to 16,238.14 in light volume. Many large investors seem to be waiting for the index to drop to around 15,200 before entering the market again, traders said.

Even with telecom operator

China Unicom's

global offering tomorrow,

China Telecom

(CHL) - Get Report

still climbed HK$2.50, or 3.9%, to 67.50 ($8.66).

Pacific Century CyberWorks

gained 0.30, or 1.9%, to 16.00, while its takeover target,

Cable & Wireless HKT

(HKT)

rose 0.20, or 1.1%, to 17.90.

Elsewhere in Asia, Korea's

Kospi

index lost 3.45 to 781.87, while Taiwan's

TWSE

index shed 53.06 to 8637.60.