Japanese shares rise 0.66% by break

Tokyo stocks added 0.66 percent Thursday morning following a Wall Street rally on hopes of progress in the United States on avoiding the fiscal cliff, while a weaker yen also provided support.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 61.33 points to 9,369.68, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares added 0.80 percent, or 6.17 points, to 777.56.

Investors are keeping a close eye on progress in a Washington budgetary impasse which has seen a deeply divided US Congress negotiate over the package of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes known as the fiscal cliff, slated to come into effect on January 1 unless a new spending deal is reached.

The current package threatens to drag the US into recession, dealing a huge blow to the wobbly global economy.

However, investors have taken positive comments from US lawmakers as a sign a deal was in sight.

"Expectations are growing that negotiations will move forward," Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager of research at Chibagin Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Kenichi Hirano, market analyst at Tachibana Securities, said: "The market will continue reacting at every turn of events over the fiscal cliff."

Shares in Japanese exporters got a boost from a weakening yen, which has been weighed by comments from Japan's main opposition leader Shinzo Abe.

Abe, widely tipped to become the nation's next prime minister after December elections, has repeatedly vowed to pressure the Bank of Japan into more aggressive monetary easing to boost the world's third-largest economy.

In afternoon forex trade, the dollar gained on the Japanese unit at 82.09 yen, up from 82.03 yen in New York trade late Wednesday, while the euro fetched 106.31 yen, from 106.14 in US trade.

The euro bought $1.2948 from $1.2939.

In stock trading, Canon rose 1.2 percent to 2,851 yen, Toyota added 1.0 percent to 3,510 yen and conglomerate Mitsubishi was up 1.36 percent at 1,563 yen.

Sony slipped 0.37 percent to 799 yen following a report in the Nikkei business daily that the electronics giant was eyeing the sale of its battery business to shore up its troubled balance sheet.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.83 percent to 12,985.11.

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      Currencies
      NamePriceChange% Chg
      1.3598+0.0003+0.02%
      USDSGD=X
      1.5247-0.0002-0.01%
      EURSGD=X
      1.7678-0.0024-0.14%
      GBPSGD=X
      73.8800+0.024+0.03%
      SGDJPY=X
      5.7017-0.0006-0.01%
      SGDHKD=X
      3.0391+0.00010.00%
      SGDMYR=X
      9,528.8027+0.34960.00%
      SGDIDR=X
      4.9048-0.0007-0.01%
      SGDCNY=X
      1.0423+0.0001+0.01%
      AUDSGD=X
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      1,330.00-0.40-0.03%
      GCZ16.CMX
      19.22+0.05+0.26%
      SIZ16.CMX
      92.98-1.47-1.55%
      ^XAU
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      HGZ16.CMX
      43.85+0.41+0.94%
      CLV16.NYM
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