Tokyo stocks open higher in thin holiday trade

Tokyo stocks opened higher on Friday supported by gains on Wall Street in thin trade with overseas investors absent for Christmas holidays.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 0.17 percent or 44.57 points at 26,712.92 in early trade, while the broader Topix index edged up 0.22 percent or 3.98 points to 1,778.25.

"Japanese shares are seen supported by US rallies, but trade is seemingly limited to modest bargain-hunting with a decline in the number of market participants," senior market strategist Yoshihiro Ito of Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.

Worries over a rise in new coronavirus infections and its impact on economic activity, ahead of the year-end and new-year holidays when many people normally travel in Japan, are weighing on the market, he added.

The dollar fetched 103.67 yen in early Asian trade, against 103.70 on Thursday in New York.

In Tokyo, shipping firms were higher, with Mitsui O.S.K. lines rallying 4.15 percent to 3,085 yen and Nippon Yusen climbing 5.70 percent to 2,374 yen, after Britain and the European Union struck a trade deal following 10 months of intense negotiations.

Automakers were also higher with Toyota trading up 0.65 percent at 7,793 yen and Nissan up 1.16 percent at 557.7 yen.

Japan's jobless rate was 2.9 percent in November, improving from 3.1 percent in the previous month, but the latest figure didn't prompt strong market reaction.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended up 0.2 percent at 30,200.92 following a lightly-traded, shortened Christmas Eve session.