TOKYO (AP) _ Tokyo stocks closed higher Thursday on the coattails of an overnight surge on Wall Street. The U.S. dollar was lower against the yen.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average rose 216.40 points, or 1.58 percent, to close at 13,910.67 points on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Thursday. On Wednesday, the average closed down 359.76 points, or 2.63 percent.

The dollar bought 123.22 yen on the Tokyo foreign exchange market at 3 p.m. (0600 GMT) Thursday, down 0.52 yen from late Wednesday in Tokyo and below its late New York level of 123.54 yen overnight.

The Nikkei got off to a strong start, rising nearly 300 points before leveling off, in the wake of strong gains Wednesday on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average closed Wednesday up 342.95 points at 11,215.92. The Nasdaq composite index closed at 2,166.44, up 80.86.

Investors in Tokyo are growing increasingly optimistic that the U.S. economy _ Japan's biggest export market _ will turn around in the second half of 2001 thanks to the Federal Reserve's decision this week to reduce interest rates by 0.5 percentage point.

Solid gains in the U.S. overnight prompted investors in Tokyo to buy shares of blue chip technology companies and exporters, traders said.

The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues listed on the first section climbed 19.91 points, or 1.47 percent, to close at 1,376.94 Thursday. The TOPIX closed down 21.81 points, or 1.61 percent, the day before.

In the currencies market, the yen strengthened against the dollar as Tokyo stocks climbed.

The euro was traded at 108.76 yen, down from 109.70 yen late Wednesday in Tokyo.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond was unchanged at 1.2500 percent from Wednesday. Its price stood at 101.31, also unchanged.

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