Nikkei hits 15-year high on Fanuc gains; posts 5th straight weekly rise

TOKYO, March 13 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei hit a fresh 15-year high on Friday and posted fifth consecutive weeks of gains as industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp jumped 13 percent on a report that it will consider raising its dividend and buying back stock.

The Nikkei share average ended 1.4 percent higher to 19,254.25 points, the highest closing level since April 2000. For the week, the index rose 1.5 percent, advancing for a fifth week.

The market was also underpinned by fresh fund inflows unleashed by the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing.

The broader Topix rose 0.9 percent to 1,560.33, posting eight straight weeks of gains and touched a seven-year high. Thirty of its 33 subsectors were in positive territory.

Volume was heavy, with 3.20 billion shares changing hands, the highest since last November, because of the settlement of the Nikkei and Topix futures and options contracts on Friday.

Index heavyweight Fanuc contributed a hefty 124.57 positive points, or about 50 percent of the Nikkei’s point gains.

Fanuc, which is known for its less-than-amicable approach to investor relations, is considering dividend hikes and seeks better engagement with investors, the Nikkei business daily reported.

The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 rose 1.0 percent to 14,201.70.

(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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