Japanese shares hit near 34-year high on tech gain, weaker yen

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese shares jumped on Wednesday to their highest level in nearly 34 years, as chip-related shares tracked gains in U.S. technology stocks, while a weaker yen boosted exporters.

By 0151 GMT, the Nikkei index had risen 1.6% to 34,316.66, crossing the 34,000 level for the first time since March 1990.

The broader Topix climbed 1.12% to 2,440.03, also hitting its highest since March 1990.

“The Nikkei rallied to the 34,000 level and that prompted investors to buy more stocks,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

The S&P 500 and Dow closed lower overnight, but the technology-heavy Nasdaq edged higher. [.N]

“The weaker yen was also a tailwind for Japanese stocks. This came after the yen’s gain against the dollar weighed on sentiment and limited the Nikkei’s gains at the end of last year,” said Shuutarou Yasuda, a market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

The dollar rose against the yen overnight as investors awaited U.S. inflation data due on Thursday for clues on the Federal Reserve’s interest rate path. [FRX/]

A softer yen tends to help exporter shares as it increases the value of overseas profits in yen terms when firms repatriate them to Japan.

Uniqlo-brand clothing retail chain operator Fast Retailing rose 2.64% to become the biggest boost for the Nikkei.

Chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron gained 2.01% and ceramics maker Kyocera climbed 5%.

Drug maker Daiichi Sankyo rose 5% to become the biggest boost for the Topix. Game maker Nintendo rose 3.87% and audit equipment and camera maker Sony Group rose 1.99%.

Medical equipment maker Olympus advanced 5.9% to become the biggest percentage gainer on the Nikkei.

(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)