Tokyo stocks higher on pharmaceuticals amid swine flu fears

Tokyo stocks higher on pharmaceuticals amid swine flu fears Tokyo  - Tokyo stocks ended Tuesday morning trading slightly higher on pharmaceutical issues as the swine influenza spreads to ever more countries.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average inched up 38.51 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 8,764.85.

The broader Topix index of all first-section issues was also up 0.99 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 834.09.

Stocks opened lower Tuesday after overnight retreats in the US market and a stronger yen.

But investors returned to buy shares in the pharmaceutical sector as well as electricity and gas issues.

First detected in Mexico, at least 26 of the country's 149 suspected swine flu cases have been confirmed, with the illness also spreading to the United States, Europe and Asian nations.

The Japanese government and businesses have encouraged people to wear face masks, wash hands and gargle frequently to prevent the virus spread.

On currency markets at 9 am (0000 GMT), the dollar was quoted at 96.35-40 yen, down from Monday's 5 pm quote of 96.72-73 yen.

The euro traded at 1.3020-25 dollars, down from late Monday's quote of 1.3165-67 dollars, and at 125.45-50 yen, down from 127.33-37 yen. (dpa)

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