Nikkei rose .21 percent
TOKYO, June 21: The Nikkei rose 0.21 percent and was heading for its highest close in seven years on Thursday as Advantest Corp. and other chip-related stocks gained following a surge in DRAM chip prices that could signal a long-awaited recovery for the sector.
Elpida Memory Inc., Japan's sole maker of DRAM chips, jumped 4.4 percent to 5,720 yen and Toshiba Corp, which makes NAND flash memory, climbed 1.8 percent to 1,000 yen, after earlier hitting its highest since September 2000.
Shares of Kobe Steel climbed 1.7 percent at 480 yen after Japan's fourth-largest steelmaker announced it had licensed its iron making technology to Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.
''The chip market cycle may have bottomed out. Gains in chip stocks are helping the Nikkei,'' said Shinji Igarashi, equity manager in the sales department at Chuo Securities.
The Nikkei rose 38.36 points at 18,250.04 as of 0439 GMT. If the benchmark closes at that level, beating this year's closing high of 18,215.35 marked on Feb. 26, it would be its highest since May 2000.
The broader TOPIX index rose 0.34 percent to 1,789.77.
Trading firms, steel and nonferrous stocks were among most actively traded issues for their profit prospects.
''The companies that export their products to BRICs nations are the major draw in the market. When their share prices go overboard, investors go somewhere else, but they always come back to these stocks,'' said Yasuo Yabe, director of sales at Meiwa Securities, referring to Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).
Trading firm Mitsubishi Corp rose 3.7 percent to 3,370 yen, Nippon Steel Corp, Japan's largest steel maker, added 0.9 percent to 880 yen and Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd., a nonferrous metals smelter, climbed 2.7 percent to 2,695 yen.
Meanwhile, shares of Funai Electric Co. Ltd. climbed 3.2 percent to 7,400 yen after the Nikkei business daily reported Funai plans to introduce a full-high definition 42-inch liquid crystal display TV in the North American market this autumn.