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Nikkei Rises to Two-Month High as Greece Clears Bailout Hurdles

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose to its highest level in two months amid optimism Greece will avoid default and after U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly expanded at a faster pace in June, easing concern that two of Japan’s largest export markets will slow.

Nippon Sheet Glass Co., a maker of glass used in cars and touch panels that counts Europe as its largest market, advanced 1.6 percent. Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker, rose 1.1 percent. Fanuc Corp. jumped 5.5 percent after a report showed orders for the company’s factory robots and tools rose to a record and a Bank of Japan survey showed Japan’s manufacturers plan to raise capital spending this year.

The Nikkei 225 added 0.5 percent to 9,868.07 at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo, its highest close since May 2. For the week, the gauge increased 2 percent. The broader Topix index gained 0.6 percent to 853.86 today after Greece moved closer to qualifying for bailout money and economic reports in the U.S. boosted confidence in the durability of the country’s recovery.

“Investors are feeling more optimistic after Greece passed its austerity package,” said Kiyoshi Ishigane, a senior strategist in Tokyo at Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co., which oversees the equivalent of $84 billion. “There’s also less concern that the U.S. economy is in trouble. Manufacturing should stop falling as supply chains in Japan are recovering quickly.”

Greek Bailout

Markets across Asia rose this week, with the benchmark MSCI Asia Pacific Index headed for a 2.6 percent gain, as Greece’s parliament passed budget cuts and tax increases that Europe demanded in exchange for delivering more rescue loans. Japan’s Topix has gained four days running, its longest winning streak since the nine days ended Feb 17.

Nippon Sheet Glass advanced 1.6 percent to 253 yen. Elpida Memory Inc., a maker of computer-memory chips that gets about a quarter of its sales in Europe, climbed 1.7 percent to 956 yen. Konica Minolta Holdings Inc., a maker of copiers and printers that counts the region as its largest market, gained 0.6 percent to 673 yen.

Exporters to Europe also got a boost after the yen depreciated to 117.21 versus the euro today, from 116.61 at the close of stock trading in Tokyo yesterday. Against the dollar, Japan’s currency weakened to 80.89 from 80.41. Exporters benefit from a weaker currency because it increases the value of overseas sales.

BOJ Tankan

Japanese shares gained after the Bank of Japan’s quarterly Tankan survey showed the country’s largest companies plan to raise capital spending this fiscal year at almost twice the pace forecast by economists. The survey, Japan’s most closely watched sentiment survey, also showed confidence among the biggest makers of cars and electronics deteriorated last quarter the most since 2009.

The survey was the first to fully reflect the impact of the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that devastated the country’s northeast coast, triggering the worst nuclear accident in 25 years, damaging factories, and leaving more than 23,000 people dead or missing. The Topix has fallen 8.3 percent since the disaster.

“The Tankan results, as a whole, confirm that the economy is turning around and will remain on the recovery track for now,” Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo, wrote in a report today.

Robot Orders

Fanuc jumped 5.5 percent to 14,110 yen today, the biggest gain on the Nikkei. Orders at the maker of factory automation tools rose to a record in the three months ended March 31, increasing 14 percent from the previous quarter, according to a report by Nomura Holdings Inc. Demand for industrial robots in the U.S. and Europe drove the growth, the report said.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The index advanced 1 percent yesterday after Greece’s parliament passed a bill authorizing more austerity. U.S. Stocks also gained after the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc.’s gauge of manufacturing unexpectedly improved and consumer confidence rose to the highest level in 10 weeks.

Toyota, which gets 28 percent of its sales in North America, rose 1.1 percent to 3,335 yen. Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of chipmaking equipment that counts North America as its largest market, advanced 3.8 percent to 708 yen.

Hoya Corp., a maker of lenses and medical products, leapt 4 percent to 1,845 yen. The company said it would sell its Pentax camera business to Ricoh Co. Reuters reported the deal before the company’s announcement today.

Among stocks that fell, clothiers Point Inc. and Shimamura Co. slid after reporting declining profit. Point plunged 4.7 percent after net income fell 42 percent in the quarter ended May 31 because of higher personnel and advertising costs and charges for losses on impaired asset losses. Shimamura, which booked a 21 percent drop in first-quarter profit, retreated 1.3 percent.

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