Japan's Nikkei index tops 20,000 for first time since late 2015

A man looks at a stock quotation board flashing the key Nikkei index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
A man looks at a stock quotation board flashing the key Nikkei index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index on Friday topped the psychologically important 20,000 mark for the first time in a year and half after a batch of mostly strong US economic data pushed Wall Street to a record close.

Investors were cheered by news that US companies added 253,000 jobs last month, reported by payrolls firm ADP. That was well above the 180,000 forecast by analysts, and boosted expectations that the Labor Department's May jobs report later Friday also will show a strong gain.

"Tokyo simply took a lead from Wall Street as well as the brighter economic indicators," Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities, told AFP.

The Nikkei rose 0.95 per cent, or 187.72 points, to 20,047.75. That was the first time it topped 20,000 since December 2015.

Tokyo's broader Topix index of all first-section shares gained 0.81 per cent, or 12.89 points, to sit at 1,599.03.

A modest rise in the US dollar against the yen - a plus for Japanese exporters' bottom line - also contributed to the rise.

In forex trading, the dollar bought 111.63 yen, up from 111.40 yen in New York.

"But we should not be too optimistic," Daiwa's Sato said, pointing to political uncertainty in Washington with the ongoing probe of the Trump team's ties to Russia.

The US president's decision to withdraw his country from the Paris climate agreement, announced shortly before the market opened, was already factored in and did not have a clear short-term impact on the market, analysts said.

In early trading, Toyota rose 0.60 per cent to 6,025 yen, while rival automaker Nissan was up 1.59 per cent to sit at 1,086 yen.

Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing, a market heavyweight, jumped 3.50 per cent to 38,370 yen and telecom SoftBank rose 0.65 per cent to 9,005 yen.