Japan's Nikkei hits seven-year high

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Nikkei 225 Index

Last Updated at 20 Nov 2017, 06:45 GMT Nikkei 225 twelve month chart
value change %
22261.76 -

Asian markets traded higher, led by Japan's Nikkei which hit a new seven-year high on reports that a planned sales tax increase might be postponed.

The Nikkei 225 index closed up more than 2% at 17,124.11 - its highest level since October 2007.

Shares jumped on news that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might postpone the planned 10% increase in sales tax.

Local media said Mr Abe might call a snap election before the end of the year if he decides to delay the rise.

Official figures also showed that Japan's current account surplus in September rose to 963bn yen ($8.4bn; £5.2bn), beating expectations.

The dollar firmed to 115.22 yen, after slipping to 114.71 yen in earlier trade.

In Greater China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up 63.58 points at 23,808.28. Investors extended Monday's rally on news of a 17 November start date for the Hong Kong-Shanghai connect, which will kick off trading between both stock exchanges.

However, on the mainland shares fell back, with the Shanghai Composite Index closing down 4 points at 2,469.67.

Shanghai Composite Index

Last Updated at 20 Nov 2017, 07:25 GMT SSE Composite three month chart
value change %
3392.40 +

In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.1% at 5,517.1, with mining stocks under pressure from falling metal prices.

Shares of heavyweight miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were down 1.5% and 1.2% respectively.

South Korean shares finished up, with the Kospi 0.2% higher at 1,963.

The index was boosted by Hyundai Motor, which saw its shares jump nearly 6% after it announced a $411.1m share buy-back plan.

Korean investors shrugged off news that the country's top department and discount store sales both fell for a second straight month in October compared with a year ago.

Sales at department stores run by Hyundai, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae slipped by 0.9%, the finance ministry said.