Nikkei gains 1.02 pct on U.S. economic hopes, weaker yen

14:55, March 05, 2011      

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Tokyo stocks added to gains Friday, with the key Nikkei stock index rising 1.02 percent as upbeat U.S. jobs data and a firm euro lifted investor sentiment and temporarily negated fears of rising oil prices on speculation unrest in the Middle East may spread.

Brokers said that domestic stocks rose on Wall Street's rally overnight, which was elevated by the U.S. Labor Department reporting applications for unemployment benefits fell by 20,000 to 368,000 in the week ended February 26.

The figure marked the lowest level of Americans receiving unemployment benefits since October 2008 and defied economists' expectations for an increase of nearly 400,000 applicants in the recording period.

Analysts also said that adding to a sense of optimism about the U.S. economy approaching a self-sustainable recovery track, the Institute for Supply Management's index of non-manufacturing businesses rising to 59.7, marking the highest level since August 2005, and outdoing economists' forecasts for a decline to 59.3, also elevated spirits on the last trading day of the week.

The ISM's gauge defines a reading above 50 as a sign of growth and the opposite as a sign of contraction in the service sector.

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