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Tokyo stocks hit 31-yr high on vaccination progress, new gov't hopes

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

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Tokyo stock market rose Tuesday morning, hitting its highest level in 31 years, as sentiment improved on Japan's progress in its COVID-19 vaccination efforts and with hopes growing for possible economic packages under a new prime minister.

    The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average climbed 115.05 points, or 0.38 percent, from Monday to 30,562.42, after briefly reaching its highest intraday level since Aug. 2, 1990.

    The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was up 8.53 points, or 0.41 percent, at 2,106.24, its highest intraday level since Aug. 6, 1990.

    Gainers were led by insurance, oil and coal product, and marine transportation issues.

    The U.S. dollar stayed around the 110 yen line as investors await the U.S. consumer price index for August to be released on Tuesday, dealers said.

    At noon, the dollar fetched 110.07-08 yen compared with 109.95-110.05 yen in New York and 110.08-09 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Monday.

    The euro was quoted at $1.1817-1821 and 130.07-11 yen against $1.1805-1815 and 129.87-97 yen in New York and $1.1786-1787 and 129.74-78 yen in Tokyo late Monday afternoon.

    Many Tokyo stocks were higher from the outset, a day after the Japanese government said more than half of the country's population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

    The Nikkei benchmark briefly rose more than 300 points to surpass its highest level for this year set on Feb. 16, as the vaccinate rate, which is now approaching that of the United States and major European countries, fueled hopes that COVID-19 restrictions in Japan will be eased in the near future, brokers said.

    "The vaccination rate is expected to reach 60 percent this month, and the Japanese economy is set to recover further in the next three months, especially in the services sector," said Shingo Ide, chief equity strategist at the NLI Research Institute.

    Tuesday's gains were built on recent sharp rises triggered by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's announcement earlier this month that he will not run in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's leadership race.

    The announcement, made amid growing public criticism over his government's coronavirus response, sparked strong buying by foreign investors who have been net-sellers recently, as it raised hopes that Suga's successor will craft a fresh stimulus package, brokers said.

    Ahead of a general election this fall, Japan's new prime minister will be effectively picked in the LDP's presidential election on Sept. 29, as the party controls the more powerful House of Representatives.

    On the First Section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,095 to 966, while 125 ended the morning unchanged.

    Hopes for an economic recovery boosted cyclical shares sensitive to economic fluctuations, such as shipbuilders and shipping companies.

    Among shipbuilders, Mitsui E&S Holdings climbed 15 yen, or 2.9 percent, to 527 yen and Kawasaki Heavy Industries gained 68 yen, or 2.7 percent, to 2,564 yen.

    Shippers Mitsui O.S.K. Lines advanced 130 yen, or 1.5 percent, to 9,050 yen and Nippon Yusen added 90 yen, or 0.9 percent, to 9,920 yen.

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