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Tokyo stocks open higher on trade optimism, lower yen

Tokyo stocks opened higher Wednesday on optimism over US-China trade talks and a cheaper yen, with the benchmark Nikkei index adding ground after hitting a fresh high.

The Nikkei 225 index, which logged its best finish in nearly 13 months on Tuesday, added 0.29 percent or 68.05 points to 23,320.04 in early trade.

The broader Topix index rose 0.34 percent or 5.70 points to 1,699.86.

"Japanese stocks will likely chase higher prices on US stocks' advance to new record highs and the yen's drop into the 109 range" to the dollar, Okasan Online Securities chief strategist Yoshihiro Ito said in a note.

Wall Street stocks held firm in record range on Tuesday thanks to rising hopes over US-China trade talks as the US services sector data topped expectations.

The blue-chip Dow mustered a narrow record for a second day in a row, while the S&P 500 fell slightly and the Nasdaq was flat.

Investor sentiment got support from reports that US President Donald Trump might remove or roll back some tariffs on Chinese goods, and cancel those planned for next month.

As risk appetite picked up, the safe-haven yen has fallen. The dollar was trading at 109.15 yen against 109.16 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.

Rodrigo Catril, senior forex strategist at National Australia Bank, cautioned that it was clear now that the US will need to remove some tariffs in order to strike the first-phase deal with Beijing.

"But if China doesn't give more concessions in exchange, President Trump runs the risk of being criticised as 'going soft' on China ahead of the election," he said in a note.

In individual stocks trade, Fujifilm fell 3.09 percent to 4,909 yen after soaring more than 6 percent the previous day on news that it will take 100 percent ownership of Fuji Xerox by buying Xerox's 25 percent stake in the firm.

SoftBank Group was down 0.11 percent at 4,289 yen as investors braced for its announcement later Wednesday of April-September results which will have taken a hit from write-downs on the group's investment portfolios.

Exporters were largely firm on a lower yen with Honda up 0.49 percent at 3,037 yen and Nintendo up 0.53 percent at 42,960 yen.