Tokyo shares rise to new highs

<p>The Nikkei hits a new 15-year high.</p>

Tokyo stocks rose today (February 20th) to extend gains to a new 15-year high on earning prospects. Trading sentiment was boosted by recent optimism about an economic recovery, with the release of fresh strong trade data.

Investors are focusing on companies committed to growth and efficiency, lifted by recent efforts from the government to promote exports including the cheap yen. 

Toyota was up 0.8 per cent, while Canon added 0.3 per cent. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 per cent to 18332.30, the highest level since May 2000.

Asian trading was quiet with most markets still closed for the Lunar New Year holidays. Gains were limited because concerns remained about Greece’s standoff with its European creditors. Greece asked for a loan extension, seeking a six-month assistance package, rather than a renewal of the existing deal. A proposal that Germany has already rejected. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.5 per cent to 5,873.80.

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