Japan's Nikkei index hits six-month high

Toky stock exchange screens Tokyo's Nikkei index closed at a six-month high on positive economic news

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Japan's main share index closed at its highest level for nearly six months after positive news from the country's central bank boosted sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 rose 289.52 points to 15,365.60, its highest level since May.

The Bank of Japan said the country's economy was "recovering moderately" and said it had no plans to reduce its major asset-buying scheme.

The yen fell against the dollar after US Federal Reserve said it might cut back its economic stimulus programme.

The dollar rose as high as 100.83 yen, its highest level since late July.

'Degree of uncertainty'

Japan's central bank said it had no intention to cut back on its asset-buying scheme, launched in April, which aims to revive the country's long-stagnant economy.

It is buying bonds worth up to 70 trillion yen ($700bn; £435bn) a year.

"Regarding risks, there remains a high degree of uncertainty concerning Japan's economy, including prospects for the European debt problem, developments in the emerging and commodity exporting economies, and the pace of recovery in the US," the central bank said in a statement.

It said it would continue with its policy "as long as it is necessary".

On Wednesday, official figures revealed that Japanese exports rose 18.6% to 6.1 trillion yen ($61bn; £38bn) in the year to October, largely thanks to a surge in car shipments.

But the trade deficit - the amount by which the cost of a country's imports exceeds the value of its exports - nearly doubled to 1.09 trillion yen in October, compared with a year ago.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's high government spending and monetary easing policies - dubbed Abenomics - are aimed at breathing new life into the world's third-largest largest economy, which has been struggling with deflation for years.

But last week, figures showed that economic growth in the country slowed to 0.5% during the July-to-September period, down from 0.9% in the previous quarter.

Contraction

Other Asian markets weren't so buoyant.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended the day down 0.5% at 23,580.29 points on the back of the US Fed news and indications of slowing growth in China.

The HSBC China flash purchasing managers' index (PMI), which gives a provisional measure of manufacturing performance, was 50.4 in November, down from October's 50.9 final reading.

China's leaders recently announced plans aimed at stimulating domestic demand, reforming capital markets, and boosting e-commerce.

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