Tokyo stocks close up 0.39%

Tokyo stocks closed 0.39 percent higher on Friday, after Wall Street advanced and as yen weakness boosted exporter shares.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 68.17 points to 17,674.39, while the Topix index of all first-section shares gained 0.11 percent, or 1.49 points, to end at 1,415.07.

"There is growing confidence in the US economy... Employment has gotten better and the effects from cheaper oil have yet to come," Shigetoshi Kamata, general manager of the research department at Tachibana Securities, told Bloomberg News.

"Investors feel bullish for Japanese stocks today."

Markets largely shrugged off Japanese government data Friday that showed inflation slowed for a fifth straight month in December with household spending also falling, in a blow to Tokyo's efforts to kickstart the world's number three economy.

Honda closed down 0.77 percent at 3,581.0 yen after the automaker said it is probing a deadly crash in the United States possibly linked to exploding air bags blamed for killing at least five people, and which sparked the recall of millions of vehicles worldwide.

Honda reported after the market close it has cut full-year profit forecast by 3.5 percent to $4.6 billion as it faces soaring recall costs from an exploding airbag crisis.

Shares in embattled airbag supplier Takata fell 2.46 percent to 1,386 yen.

In New York on Thursday the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 1.31 percent after two days of losses, following generally solid corporate earnings and a gain in oil prices.

The dollar was relatively strong against the yen on upbeat expectations for the first estimate of fourth-quarter US gross domestic product, due out later Friday.

Data on Thursday showed new claims for US unemployment insurance benefits plunged to the lowest level in nearly 15 years last week.

The greenback fetched 117.98 yen in Tokyo, down from 118.34 yen in New York but still up from 117.70 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday.

A weak yen is positive for Japanese exporters as it makes them more competitive abroad and inflates profits when repatriated.

Toshiba tacked on 2.30 percent to 474.6 yen after it said Thursday it was getting out the North American television business, citing a tough market, as it reported soaring nine-month earnings.

Skymark Airlines dived 33.75 percent to 157 yen. The shares have lost more than half their value after the struggling carrier announced late Wednesday it was filing for bankruptcy protection.

NEC shares fell 7.47 percent to 334 yen, despite the IT firm saying it had it swung back to profit in the nine months to December, after exiting the smartphone market as part of a broader restructuring.

Mobile carrier SoftBank was down 3.37 percent to 6,963 yen after Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, in which it holds a one-third stake, reported weaker-than-expected sales growth.

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