TOKYO, March 24, 2017 (BSS/AFP) - Tokyo stocks moved slightly higher in early trading Friday as a weaker yen boosted exporters, but gains were capped by Wall Street declines after a key vote on US healthcare reform was delayed.
US stocks spent most of Thursday's session in positive territory, but fell after the late-afternoon news that Republicans had postponed the crucial vote on President Donald Trump's replacement for Obamacare to Friday.
Analysts pointed to concerns that a rejection of the Republicans' healthcare bill could jeopardise Trump's plans for major fiscal stimulus.
"Admittedly we think that the fiscal stimulus may be delayed rather than scuppered if the healthcare bill is defeated," Capital Economics said in a note.
But Toshihiko Matsuno, head of investment information at SMBC Friend Securities, told AFP: "Even though the vote was delayed, the fact that it will take place Friday probably means the Republican plan will pass."
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 0.33 percent, or 63.39 points, to 19,148.70 in early trading after falling slightly at the open.
The Topix index of all first-section issues, meanwhile, was up 0.44 percent, or 6.69 points, to 1,537.10, also recovering from a decline at the beginning of trade.
In currency trading, the dollar fetched 111.22 yen, recovering from 110.98 yen in New York, but still lower than 111.36 yen seen in Tokyo late Thursday.
The greenback had sat in the mid-113 yen region at the end of last week.
A weaker yen is good for the profitability of Japanese exporters and often spurs buying of their shares.
Honda was up 0.02 percent to 3,436 yen, while Sony gained 1.44 percent to 3,591 yen.
Megabank MUFG was up 1.49 percent to 718.9 yen.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)