The key Nikkei stock index ended Wednesday at its highest level since late April 2004, racking up the second-largest single-day gain this year after the government said the day before that economic recovery had ended its pause.

The 225-issue Nikkei average gained 197.76 points, or 1.66 percent, to 12,098.08. It was the highest close since last year’s closing high of 12,163.89, marked April 26.

The broader Tokyo stock price index of all first section issues rose 21.58 points, or 1.79 percent, to 1,227.85, the highest close since Aug. 2, 2001, when it ended at 1,235.26.

Investors snapped up shares across the board from the outset as Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Heizo Takenaka said Tuesday after the market closed, “We believe the economy has now emerged from the standstill.”

Brokers said topping the Nikkei’s highest close in 2004 will serve as a convincing sign in determining whether the economy is truly on a recovery track, because it was the highest close since August 2001.

The day’s market strength symbolized that the country’s economy has moved out of a soft patch, said Takahide Kiuchi, a senior economist at the financial and economic research center of Nomura Securities Co., adding that April 2004 was the month when the economic recovery paused.

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