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Japan's TOPIX hits highest in nearly 15 years

Written by: Staff

Tokyo, Apr 5: Japan's TOPIX index climbed to its highest level in nearly 15 years on Wednesday on expectations of improved company earnings.

Shares in insurance firms, many of which have large stock holdings, gained ground on expectations that the market's recent rise would boost their bottom line, while tech companies rose after similar U.S. stocks hit five-year closing highs.

Investors were buying on expectations that Japanese firms would continue to produce higher earnings, said Ken Masuda, senior dealer in equities at Shinko Securities.

''While investors aren't expecting the levels of earnings growth that you see in China, people are thinking that Japan is a good bet for both security and growth,'' he said.

The TOPIX was up 0.72 percent at 1,762.25 as of 0042 GMT, after earlier hitting its highest since November 1991.

The Nikkei share average was up 0.72 percent at 17,417.55, after earlier hitting its highest since July 2000.

Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. advanced 4.6 percent to 1,796 yen, helping make insurers IINSU.the top gainers among Japan's 33 sector sub-indexes.

Investors were betting that insurers' extensive stock holdings would benefit from the market's rise, Masuda said.

Tech shares gained after the Nasdaq Composite Index booked its highest close in five years. Advantest Corp. added 1.6 percent to 14,450 yen.

NEC Corp. gained 0.8 percent to 851 after the electronics conglomerate said it and EMC Corp., the world's biggest manufacturer of computer-storage devices, have agreed to cooperate in the data storage device business.


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