Nikkei soars to near 6-month high, extends gains on Aso comments

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 14, 2013 05:00 hrs

By Tomo Uetake

TOKYO, Nov 14 (Reuters) - The Nikkei stock average surged almost 3 percent to a near six-month high on Thursday afternoon, extending gains after comments by Finance Minister Taro Aso on currency intervention sparked fresh buying.

Aso, speaking in parliament, said it was important to have foreign exchange intervention as a policy option, saying Japan must always be ready to send a signal to markets to curb excessive, one-sided currency moves.

His comments added to pressure against the yen, which neared a two-month low versus the dollar, even though few market players think the finance ministry intends to conduct intervention any time soon.

The benchmark Nikkei rose as much as 2.7 percent to 14,966.43 in early afternoon trade, its highest level since May 24.

The market also got a boost from dovish comments by Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen and data showing the Japanese economy notched up its fourth straight quarter of growth.

"I think buying is mainly by small- or medium-sized foreign hedge funds who are chasing Nikkei 225 futures," said Kenichi Hirano, a strategist at Tachibana Securities.

"Some of those funds covered their short positions ahead of their year-end book closing later this month."

Nikkei heavyweights Fast Retailing Co Ltd jumped 5.8 percent, KDDI Corp climbed 5.1 percent and Fanuc Corp gained 3.9 percent.

The broader Topix added 1.4 percent to 1,220.77.

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