* Yen weakness boosts exporters
* Nikkei up 23 pct this year, yen down 12 pct vs dollar
* Nikkei, Topix rise 0.7 pct on last trading day of 2012
* Long-only funds' buying continues -analyst
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Dec 28 Japan's Nikkei average climbed to
a 21-month high on Friday, posting its best yearly gain since
2005, as rising expectations of aggressive monetary stimulus
under new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe weakened the yen and
bolstered exporters' shares.
Blue-chip exporters Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor
Co, Canon Inc and Nikon Corp posted
gains of 1.1 to 2.3 percent. Index heavyweight and industrial
robot maker Fanuc Corp gained 1.2 percent.
The Nikkei advanced 0.7 percent to 10,395.18 on the
last trading day of the year, after touching its highest level
since March 10, 2011, in intraday trade.
The yen hit a more than two-year low of 86.64 to the
dollar on Friday. A weaker yen makes Japanese exports cheaper
and increases the earnings of exporters when repatriated from
Abe, whose Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory
in a parliamentary election on Dec. 16, has called on the Bank
of Japan to set a 2 percent inflation target, double the bank's
current goal, and to ease policy "without limits" to beat
"We expect the yen to hit 90, and the Nikkei to reach 11,000
as early as late January or early February," said Shun Maruyama,
chief Japan equity strategist at BNP Paribas.
"The market is pricing in a new inflation target of 2
percent. However, the problem is how to achieve the target. The
market is focusing on what the BOJ will announce in its next
Maruyama said if the BOJ fell short of market expectations
at its next meeting, investors would take profits. The BOJ holds
its next policy meeting on Jan. 21-22.
The benchmark Nikkei has rallied 20 percent over the past
six and a half weeks, on expectations that Abe will pursue
policies to weaken the currency and help the export-oriented
economy pull out of recession.
Those expectations had prompted foreign investors to be net
buyers of Japanese equities last week for a sixth consecutive
week. They bought a net 764.9 billion yen ($8.9 billion) of
shares in the week through Dec. 15, the biggest net buying since
March 2011, data from the Ministry of Finance showed.
The Nikkei is up 23 percent this year, its best yearly gain
since 2005, while the Japanese currency has lost 12.2 percent
against the greenback this year, and is set to post its biggest
annual loss since 2005.
"Such funds as macro hedge funds have already chased the
market higher, but some long-only funds are seen still 2 to 3
percent underweight of Japan. They have changed their investment
stance on Japan to 'neutral' from 'underweight', so they are
still buying and will probably continue buying next year," said
Hiromichi Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities.
The broader Topix index gained 0.7 percent to 859.80
in relatively active trade, with 2.89 billion shares changing
Toshiba Corp climbed 5.0 percent on media reports
that it is in talks with three parties to sell a portion of its
stake in its nuclear power unit Westinghouse.
Nippon Electric Glass Co, however, shed 4.1 percent
after the glassmaker cut its earnings forecast for the
nine-month period through December, citing a price decline in
glass used in flat panel displays.