Nikkei hits seven-and-a-half-year high

Japanese shares hit a seven-and-a-half-year high despite news that the latest talks in the Eurozone over Greece ended without a resolution.

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said six hours of talks produced no agreement to extend Greece’s 24bn euro ($270bn; £17.8bn) bailout plan but However, the Nikkei 225 closed up 1.9% at 17,979.72 – its highest level since July 2007.

Meanwhile, the dollar was at 120.28 yen, down from 120.35 yen in US trade.

Investor sentiment was boosted by data that showed Japan’s core machinery orders rose in December at the fastest pace in six months and that companies expected orders to increase.

The 8.3% month-on-month gain was much higher than the forecast for a 2.4% increase.

Shares in industrial robot maker Fanuc soared 6.2% and hit a record high after local media reported that hedge fund Third Point bought a stake in the company.

In other Asian news, markets in China headed lower as investors turned cautious ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday next week.

The Shanghai Composite was up 0.5% at 3,173.55, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 0.3% to 24,390.65.

In Australia, shares fell after data showed that the country’s unemployment rate jumped to a decade high. The jobless rate jumped to 6.4% from 6.1%, levels not seen since August 2002.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 ended down 0.4% to 5,743.6 – marking its fourth consecutive decline.

South Korean shares also headed down with the Kospi index closing down 0.2% at 1,941.63.

Shares of Korea Gas plunged 4.7% after the state utility reported a 32% decline in profits during the fourth quarter, well below forecasts.

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