Investors have helped Japanese shares soar to their highest level in six years as the Nikkei index made more gains on the last trading day of the year. The renewed rally was supported by a continuously weak yen.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.69 percent on Monday, ending the trading year at almost 16,300 points - a six-year high. For the whole of the year, the index climbed by 56.72 percent.
Analysts said stocks could rise even further next year, with Japanese markets to resume trading on January 6 and a weak national currency making domestic products more competitive overseas while also improving repatriated revenues.
Hopes for a sustainable economic recovery in Japan were fuelled by reports that the country's most influential business lobby had agreed to encourage its members to raise workers' base pay for the first time in six years. Such a move would be essential to the government's pledge to end 15 years of deflation.
Yen eyed with suspicion
While the Nikkei did well, the rest of Asia continued to underperform on Monday, with investors shifting more funds from emerging markets into Europe and the United States.
The continued weakness of the yen kept ruffling Asian competitors' feathers who complained about being at a disadvantage.
South Korea warned the yen was falling too fast and China's National Development and reform Commission said the impact on neighbors needed to be monitored.
European stocks started the last trading day with slight early-morning gains as trading volumes were widely expected to remain low with many investors extending their holidays into the new year.
hg/msh (Reuters, dpa)