By Laura He, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Japan stocks extended gains Friday to a fresh 15-year high, as the yen weakened versus the greenback ahead of the closely watched U.S. jobs report for February.
The Nikkei Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.76% advanced 1.2% to 18,971.00, the highest close since April 2000. The broader Topix /zigman2/quotes/210598092/delayed JP:180460 -0.66% added 1.1%.
Meanwhile, the yen retreated against the dollar to ¥120.16, from ¥119.81 in the previous session, as markets looked ahead to monthly U.S. jobs data, scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time on Friday.
Several major export-related stocks gained substantially, with camera maker Olympus Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200860615/delayed JP:7733 -2.16% leaping 5.8%, electronics giant Fujitsu Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/208459594/delayed JP:6702 -2.24% jumping 3.4%, and rival Panasonic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201785256/delayed JP:6752 -0.30% climbing 2%.
Also boosting market sentiment was the European Central Bank’s announcement on Thursday that it would start its €1.1 trillion program to buy government bonds and other debt on Monday.
Other Asian markets mostly recorded losses, as Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -2.00% extended a four-day losing streak and dropped 0.1%, and mainland China’s Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -4.50% fell further and slipped 0.2%.