Nikkei closes at 8-year high

<p>Shares were boosted by a weakening yen.</p>

Japanese shares hit an eight-year high today (February 18th), boosted by Wall Street's record close and a weaker yen. The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 1.2 per cent up at 18,199.17 – its highest finish since July 2007. The Topix rose 1.41 per cent to 1,482.67.

Yesterday, the Dow Jones industrial average enjoyed gains as investors reassessed the Greek debt problem and hoped for a deal. The dollar rose to 119.09 yen.

The Bank of Japan's decision to keep its monetary policy unchanged was shrugged off by the markets.

“Foreign investors picked up stocks in the banking and brokerage sectors. Individual investors also rushed to buy such issues in the afternoon following their recent surges,” Ryuta Otsuka, strategist at the investment information department of Toyo Securities Co, told the Japan Times."The Nikkei is unlikely to keep rising at the current pace, but is expected to consolidate its downside at 18,000," he added.

Meanwhile, Chinese markets were closed for the holidays and will reopen on February 24th. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 0.2 per cent up at 24,832.08. Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose one per cent to 5,915.7.

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