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World stocks mostly higher, Japan's Nikkei jumps

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

Pedestrians look at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. Japan’s benchmark stock index jumped about 2 percent Friday after the country’s currency continued to slide against the dollar. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

BANGKOK (AP) -- Japan's benchmark stock index hit a 32-month high Friday as the yen continued to retreat against the dollar and investors cheered the new government's plans to boost the economy. Other stock markets edged up.

Evan Lucas of IG Markets in Melbourne said he expected to see further surges in Japan's Nikkei 225 index after Yasutoshi Nishimura, a senior vice minister of the Japanese government's Cabinet Office, commented that the yen would fall further. The Nikkei surged 2.9 percent to 10,926.65, its highest close since April 30, 2010.

European stocks were mixed. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent to 6,259.49, but Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 7,762.35 and France's CAC-40 edged up less than 0.1 percent to 3,754.31.

Wall Street appeared headed for gains, with Dow Jones industrial futures 0.2 percent higher at 13,806 and S&P 500 futures gaining 0.2 percent to 1,494.20.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index surged 2.9 percent to

A weaker yen helps Japanese exporters by making products sold abroad less expensive and also helps some of the country's trading partners by increasing demand for the raw materials they ship to Japan, Lucas said.

The recent decline in the yen's value against the dollar and drops against other major currencies have been driven by expectations that Japan's central bank will try to engineer inflation by increasing the amount of money in circulation.

The bank has been under pressure from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office a month ago, to do more to end Japan's prolonged spell of falling prices known as deflation. The ultimate aim is to create a recovery for Japan's moribund economy.

South Korea's Kospi fell amid fears that the country's exporters could be slammed by Japan's dropping yen, which makes Japanese products less expensive overseas. The benchmark fell 1 percent to 1,943.97.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.1 percent to 23,580.43. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5 percent to 4,835.20.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5 percent to 2,291.30 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.2 percent at 909.52.

Among individual stocks, Japan's Sony Corp. jumped 8.5 percent and Toshiba Corp. advanced 5.3 percent. Agriculture Bank of China, one of the four main state owned banks, lost 1.4 percent

South Korea's Samsung Electronics, which said the strong won will hurt its earnings this year, fell 2.5 percent. South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. shed 3.4 percent.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was up 25 cents to $96.20 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 72 cents to finish at $95.95 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3425 from $1.3371 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 90.63 yen from 89.96 yen.


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