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Japan Stocks Reach Best 3-year Levels

Japanese stocks reached their best levels on Monday on hopes for strong earnings

Japan Stocks Reach Best 3-year Levels

Japanese stocks reached their best levels in almost three years on Monday on hopes for strong earnings, while the dollar struck a five-month peak against the euro on expectations U.S. rates would climb soon, Reuters reports.

European shares were expected to open little changed after a lacklustre performance by U.S. stocks on Friday, with the drug sector in focus after Aventis accepted a sweetened bid from French peer Sanofi-Synthelabo .

Worries over new SARS cases in China helped wipe two percent off top Hong Kong stocks and dented shares elsewhere in Asia. Oil prices rose after an attack on an Iraqi crude facility.

The Nikkei stock average closed up 0.36 percent at 12,163.89, its highest finish since August 2001, after rising as high as 12,195.66.

Toshiba Corp was among technology and auto stocks in demand in Japan ahead of a stream of earnings reports starting later in the day.

"The market has not yet fully factored in good earnings from the tech sector," said Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi Securities.

Toshiba rose 1.3 percent after a bullish forecast by the Nihon Keizai newspaper on the electronics maker's earnings for both the past and current business years.

Fujitsu Ltd , Japan's largest computer maker, gained 3.1 percent, adding to Friday's nine percent rally, after it raised its profit forecast last week for the past year. Both companies report on Tuesday.

Nissan Motor Co gained 1.4 ahead of results that came out after the close of trade and showed an 11.9 percent jump in annual operating profits.

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