• Jiji


Tokyo stocks surged Thursday on optimism for a coronavirus vaccine, pushing the benchmark Nikkei average up to a closing level last seen before the pandemic caused it to plunge in March.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange jumped 405.65 points, or 1.78 percent, to end at 23,249.61, the first time it has closed above 23,000 since June 10 and the highest finish since Feb. 21. On Wednesday, the key index gained 93.72 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues closed up 18.62 points, or 1.16 percent, at 1,624.15, following a 19.57-point rise the previous day.

The Tokyo market got off to a strong start, thanks to climbs in all three major U.S. stock price gauges on Wednesday.

Vaccine hopes rose among investors in both the U.S. and Tokyo markets, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that the government will purchase 100 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine from Moderna Inc.

Also buoyed by the popularity of high-tech issues, especially those related to the semiconductor sector, both the Nikkei and Topix fluctuated far above Wednesday’s closing levels in the afternoon.

“Investors welcomed (Trump’s announcement) as they viewed that the United States has made progress in preparing its vaccine supply system,” Maki Sawada, vice president of Nomura Securities Co.’s Investment Research & Investor Services Department, said.

She added that the Tokyo market turned top-heavy in the afternoon, reflecting lackluster moves in Dow Jones futures in off-hours trading.

Rising issues overwhelmed falling ones 1,478 to 615 with 80 issues unchanged in the TSE first section. Volume decreased slightly to 1.411 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.491 billion shares.

Semiconductor-related issues, including chip-testing device maker Advantest and chipmaking gear manufacturer Tokyo Electron, attracted active buying, in the wake of a steep rise of the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index in the U.S. market on Wednesday.

Mitsui Chemicals surged 8.58 percent, as market players reacted positively to the chemical firm’s upward revisions to its operating profit and net profit outlooks for the year through March 2021.

Pan Pacific International Holdings, which runs Don Quijote discount stores, climbed 8.10 percent, in response to its better-than-expected operating profit for the year ended in June.

Drugmaker Chugai and air conditioner maker Daikin also went up.

On the other hand, air carrier ANA and convenience store chain FamilyMart succumbed to selling.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average gained 310 points to end at 23,210.

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