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Nikkei ends at 5-month high, briefly tops 30,000 on stimulus hope

This file photo shows the Tokyo Stock Exchange. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Nikkei stock index ended at a five-month high Tuesday after briefly regaining the 30,000 mark for the first time since early April, on growing expectations that whoever becomes Japan's new prime minister will introduce a stimulus package to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

    The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 256.25 points, or 0.86 percent, from Monday at 29,916.14, its highest close since April 5.

    The benchmark has advanced nearly 5 percent since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday said he will not run in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election later this month, prompting several party members to move to succeed him as party chief and thus prime minister.

    The stimulus hopes also kept pushing up the broader Topix, which remained at levels not seen over the past three decades. The index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 22.16 points, or 1.09 percent, higher at 2,063.38, the highest closing level since Aug. 16, 1990.

    Gainers were led by air transportation, land transportation and warehousing and harbor transportation service.

    The U.S. dollar was steady in the upper 109 yen range throughout the day. At 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 109.89-90 yen compared with 109.89-91 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Monday, when financial markets in the United States were closed due to a national holiday.

    The euro was quoted at $1.1875-1877 and 130.50-54 yen against $1.1862-1864 and 130.35-39 yen in Tokyo late Monday afternoon.

    The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond fell 0.005 percentage point from Monday's close to 0.035 percent as recent higher yields attracted buying, dealers said.

    Tokyo stocks have surged recently on receding risks that Suga's declining approval rating would lead the LDP to suffer a defeat in the upcoming general election, resulting in political uncertainty, brokers said.

    The Nikkei briefly topped the 30,000 mark minutes after the market opening. The momentum slightly slowed as some market players apparently moved to secure profits with a sense of accomplishment over a short term.

    "Foreign investors, who had sold (Nikkei) futures from earlier this year, bought back on optimism about new economic and other measures to battle the pandemic under a new ruling party leader," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.

    But some brokers warned that the surging market is only based on expectations, and that selling for quick profits could still kick in easily.

    On the First Section, advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1,477 to 602, while 110 ended unchanged.

    Air transportation and land transportation issues rose as declining COVID-19 cases in Japan spurred hopes for a recovery in domestic travel demand. Tokyo confirmed 968 daily coronavirus infections Monday, the first time the count had fallen below 1,000 since July 19.

    Japan Airlines gained 54 yen, or 2.2 percent, to 2,476 yen and ANA Holdings climbed 81.50 yen, or 3.1 percent, to 2,716.00 yen.

    East Japan Railway advanced 213 yen, or 3.1 percent, to 7,131 yen, while Tobu Railway rose 51 yen, or 1.8 percent, to 2,907 yen.

    Trading volume on the main section rose to 1,257.38 million shares from Monday's 1,176.83 million shares.

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