February 23, 2018 / 6:34 AM / 6 months ago

Japan stocks gain in thin trade, defensive sector gets boost

TOKYO, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Tokyo stocks rose on Friday in light trade as receding fears of more aggressive U.S. interest rate hikes boosted sentiment, with defensive shares such as construction and utilities outperforming.

The benchmark Nikkei ended 0.7 percent higher at 21,892.78. For the week, it was up 0.8 percent, rising for two straight weeks.

The broader Topix gained 0.8 percent to 1,760.53, but trading was thin, with only 1.19 billion shares changing hands, the lowest since late December.

Construction companies Kajima Corp and Taisei Corp climbed 3.4 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, and Tokyo Electric Power Co rose 1.8 percent and Kansai Electric Power jumping 5.0 percent.

Mining stocks also gained, with Inpex and Japan Petroleum Exploration rising 2.1 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively, after oil prices rose to two-week highs on Thursday before dipping on Friday. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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