Tokyo shares end on a new high

<p>The Nikkei 225 average closed at a fresh 15-year high today.</p>

Tokyo stocks rose today (March 17th), with the Nikkei 225 average closing at a fresh 15-year high, boosted by a positive finish on Wall Street overnight and the announcement that the Bank of Japan (BOJ) is leaving its massive monetary stimulus program unchanged.

The BOJ said in a statement that the year-on-year consumer inflation rate "is likely to be about zero percent for the time being" due to falling energy prices, the Japan Times reports.

The key index rose 0.99 per cent, to 19,437.00, its best closing since April 14, 2000, while the Topix gained 0.79 per cent, to close at 1,570.50.

Investors were also focusing on the US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which commences its monthly meeting later today. Markets wonder if the US central bank will eliminate the word "patient" from its post-meeting statement, signalling an interest rate hike this year.

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