Tokyo shares close 0.59% higher

Tokyo shares rose 0.59 percent Wednesday to their best finish in eight months, with dealers shrugging off a North Korean rocket launch as stocks were buoyed by upbeat US and European news.

Progress in US fiscal cliff talks and a surge in German investor sentiment sent the benchmark Nikkei 225 index up 56.14 points to 9,581.46, its highest level since April 19.

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares finished 0.66 percent, or 5.22 points, higher at 791.29.

Tokyo investors appeared little concerned about Pyongyang's rocket launch Wednesday morning, despite possible repercussions for regional stability.

"Frankly, it was almost a non-event," Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

"It would have been a different story had Japan attempted to shoot the missile down, or if pieces of it landed in Japan."

A weaker yen helped exporter shares while sentiment also got a boost from data Tuesday showing German investor sentiment at a seven-month high, raising hopes Europe's top economy will dodge recession.

Debt-pressured Spain also saw borrowing costs fall sharply Tuesday in a sale of short-term treasury bills.

In the United States, there were signs of progress in talks aimed at avoiding the fiscal cliff of deep spending cuts and huge tax hikes due to come into effect on January 1.

And the Federal Reserve policy committee finishes its two-day meeting on Wednesday, with expectations running high that it will launch further stimulus to power the world's biggest economy.

Investors are also looking ahead to national elections in Japan at the weekend, which are expected to see Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's government toppled by main opposition leader Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party.

In Tokyo stock trading, Mitsubishi Motors soared 10.13 percent to 87 yen after a report in the Nikkei business daily said the automaker would transfer shares in its Dutch unit to a local firm this week.

Mitsubishi said earlier this year it would stop making automobiles in Europe by the end of 2012, citing losses from its business on the continent.

Canon added 2.60 percent to 3,075 yen, Sony was up 3.09 percent at 833 yen while Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo cheap chic clothing chain, rose 0.76 percent to 19,790 yen.

Nissan gained 0.78 percent to 771 yen after the automaker said it plans to roll out 15 updated or new models of hybrid vehicles over the next few years to boost its lineup of green cars.

In currency markets, the dollar fetched 82.72 yen from 82.51 yen in New York late Tuesday, while the euro bought $1.3006 from $1.3003, and 107.61 yen against 107.28 yen.

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