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Tokyo stocks gain, Honda up on earnings prospects

Written by: Staff

TOKYO, Mar 27 (Reuters) The Nikkei average rose 0.72 percent on Monday as companies with strong earnings prospects such as Honda Motor Co. Ltd. gained ahead of the start of a new business year.

Solid demand for investment trusts to be launched in coming days helped such buying, but trade was slow as Monday is the last trading day for stocks whose settlement is due within the current fiscal year, which ends on March 31.

''Big institutions are preparing for the fiscal year end, so there are few sellers in the market,'' said Kazuyuki Naito, general manager at sales division of Mitsubishi UFJ Securities.

Under such circumstances even light bargain-hunting was enough to support the market, he said.

A government survey, released before the opening, showed big Japanese manufacturers were less confident about business conditions in the three months to March.

But the outlook was stronger for the following two quarters, underscoring optimism about the economy.

The Nikkei was up 119.19 points at 16,680.06 as of 0057 GMT.

It earlier rose as high as 16,711.16, approaching to year-to-date intraday high of 16,777.37 marked in February.

The TOPIX index was up 0.31 percent at 1,694.62.

Honda, Japan's third-biggest auto maker, hit a lifetime high of 7,360 yen, up 1.9 percent from the previous close.

Toyota Motor Corp., the most active issue by value, was up 0.5 percent at 6,380 yen.

Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Co. Ltd., a maker of precision machinery, climbed 7.3 percent to 1,118 yen after it on Friday revised up its earnings forecasts for the year ending this month.

A rebound in the U.S. Nasdaq index helped technology stocks such as chip equipment maker Advantest Corp., which was up 1.1 percent at 13,190 yen.

Mitsui Chemicals Inc. fell 1.9 percent to 887 yen, extending falls into a third session following its downward revision to its earnings forecasts due to higher costs for raw materials such as naphtha.


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