U.S. Jobs Data Push Japanese Exporters Higher

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Tokyo Stock Exchange boardMonday Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose 0.5% to 11,339. Markets in Hong Kong and China were closed today for Easter and the celebration of Ching Ming Festival, or grave sweeping, a day when locals honor their ancestors.Rosy data from the U.S. Labor Department, showing that payrolls rose by 162,000 jobs last month, was good news for makers of Japanese consumer products as investors put their money on Americans doing more buying in electronics shops, camera stores and computer game departments once those paychecks start rolling in. That combined with the dollar strengthening against the yen, which makes profits made abroad more valuable when converted back to local currency, pushed exporters' shares higher.

Popular Japanese electronics makers made gains today. Pioneer, creator of the first CD players that worked in cars, surged 4.2%, Sharp shot up 3.3%, Panasonic rose 2.7% and TDK advanced 2.5. Game console maker, Nintendo gained 1.7% and PS3 maker Sony added 1%. Sony also has a snazzy new ad in U.K. movie theaters showing off it's funky "sweep panorama" technology built into its Cyber-Shot cameras.

Other camera makers also fared well with Nikon climbing 2.6%, Canon soaring 2.5% and Konica Minolta up 1%. Fujifilm Holdings, which has businesses ranging from film developing to medical equipment and copy machines, rose 2.1%.

Okuma, which manufactures machine tools such as lathes and crankshafts, surged 7.5%, while Kobe Steel, maker of steel as well as industrial and construction machinery, rocketed up 6.3%.

Affordable Japanese clothing darling Fast Retailing, which operates the Uniqlo clothing chain, slumped 10.6%, its biggest plunge since 2007, according to Bloomberg. While the shops may still be crowded in other countries, domestic Japanese sales have fallen at home where the company has yet to come up with a product as successful as last winter's mix-'n-match Heat-Tech thermals.

Motorcycle maker Yamaha Motor plunged 9.4% today, while Japanese car makers moved up: Mazda surged 2.9%, Honda added 1.4, Isuzu inched up 1.2% and Toyota made a 1.1% gain. Not bad for a lazy Easter Monday.
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