TOKYO: Japan's benchmark Nikkei closed near a 29-1/2-year high on Tuesday, tracking gains in U.S. stock futures over growing optimism that major drugmakers will roll out coronavirus vaccines before year-end.
The Nikkei 225 index ended up 1.34% at 26,787.54, near its highest level since April 1991, hit earlier in the session. The broader Topix rose 0.77% to 1,768.38.
Securities brokerages, non-ferrous metals and metal products led the advance on the main bourse.
Japanese stocks got off to a bright start after Moderna Inc said it had applied for U.S. emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna's candidate is the second vaccine likely to win U.S. approval for a potential rollout this year.
In addition, Japan's government has vowed to compile a stimulus package to help the economy mitigate short-term economic impacts from a recent rise in coronavirus infections.
"There may be some slight adjustments, but Japanese stocks won't fall very far," said Kiyoshi Ishigane, chief fund manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co.
"Approval of a vaccine is a big boost. Some traders are also focused on an increase in Japanese fiscal spending."
Gains in U.S. stock futures, up more than 0.8% in Asian trade, and strong Chinese factory activity data also bolstered Japanese shares.
The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were Fanuc Corp, up 3.09%, and Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd, up 2.8%.
The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Nintendo Co Ltd, down 3.19%, and Recruit Holdings Co Ltd, which lost 2.89%.
There were 193 advancers on the Nikkei index against 30 decliners.
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board was 1.33 billion, compared to the average of 1.27 billion in the past 30 days. - Reuters
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