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Japanese stocks hit highest level since 2000

Japan's benchmark stock index topped 16,000 points Monday, reaching its highest level since October 2000. The dollar rose slightly against the yen.
Passers-by are reflected on the electronic stock prices board of a securities company in downtown Tokyo on Monday.Katsumi Kasahara / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Japan's benchmark stock index topped 16,000 points Monday, reaching its highest level since October 2000. The dollar rose slightly against the yen.

The Nikkei 225 index rose 166.30 points, or 1.04 percent, to finish the day's trading at 16,107.67 points on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The broader Topix index, including all shares on the exchange's first section, gained 11.05 points, or 0.67 percent, to 1,648.94 _ the Topix's highest closing since May 2000.

The Nikkei's rise came on broad-based buying, with shares in banks, retailers and textiles higher.

Continued net buy orders placed via foreign brokerages helped the mood on the exchange, according to one trader, while retail investors' appetites for shares of companies like Internet service providers Softbank and Yahoo Japan were very strong.

Softbank Corp. rose 3.01 percent to 13,360 yen ($115.17) and Yahoo Japan Corp. gained 3.23 percent to 160,000 yen ($1,379.31). Textile issues also rose, with Toray Industries Inc. rising 2.87 percent to 967 yen ($8.34).

Meanwhile, Seven & I Holdings Co., the owner of 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan and the United States, also advanced, after it said it will pay 131.1 billion yen ($1.13 billion) for department store operator Millennium Retailing Inc. in a deal to create Japan's largest retailer.

Seven & I Holdings surged 11.34 percent to 4,910 yen ($42.33) and Millennium Retailing climbed 0.48 percent to 2.08 million yen ($17,931.03).

Before Monday's session, the Nikkei has climbed more than 31 percent this year on renewed optimism for the country's economic recovery. Last Wednesday, the index jumped 316.31 points, or 2.02 percent, to 15,957.57 points after briefly topping 16,000 points _ the Nikkei's highest intraday level since October 2000.

Despite the recent gains, the Nikkei is far below its all-time closing high of 38,915.87 set Dec. 29, 1989. The plunge that followed in the early 1990s contributed to the economy's nearly 15-year slump.

"The market continues looking upside," said Hiroichi Nishi, product manager at Nikko Cordial Securities.

First-section volume fell to 1.872 billion shares, from Thursday's 2.496 billion shares. Advancers beat decliners 901 to 647, with 120 issues unchanged.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was trading at 116.42 yen on the Tokyo foreign exchange market at 5 p.m. (0800 GMT) Monday, up 0.10 yen from late Friday in New York.

The euro fell to US$1.1856 from US$1.1862 late Friday in New York.

The yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond fell to 1.5200 percent from Thursday's finish of 1.5500. Its price rose 0.26 point to 99.82.

Japanese financial markets were closed Friday for a national holiday.