The benchmark Nikkei stock average hit a six-month closing high in Tokyo trading on Tuesday, lifted by growing hopes for treatment and vaccine development for the new coronavirus.

The 225-issue Nikkei average of the Tokyo Stock Exchange surged 311.26 points, or 1.35 percent, to end at 23,296.77, its best finish since Feb. 21.

The index briefly rose above the Feb. 21 closing level marked immediately before the virus’s spread triggered global stock price falls. On Monday, it gained 65.21 points.

The Topix index of all first section issues finished up 18.10 points, or 1.13 percent, at 1,625.23. It added 3.07 points the previous day.

Sentiment improved after U.S. stocks surged Monday on news of U.S. approval of blood plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients and a media report that the United States is considering fast-tracking a coronavirus vaccine developed in Britain, brokers said.

The Tokyo market was also supported by a rise in U.S. index futures in off-hours trading, brokers said.

Investor sentiment was also lifted by the announcement by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office that Washington and Beijing held phone talks and “are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success” of their phase one trade deal, brokers said.

“Cyclicals such as airlines and realtors led the Tokyo market’s surge, after expectations for an economic recovery grew on Wall Street” thanks to hopes for COVID-19 treatment and vaccine development, said Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan Inc.

Another brokerage official said, “The Nikkei turned top-heavy when it rose above pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, weighed down by selling on rallies.”

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,643 to 467 in the TSE’s first section, while 63 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 1.209 billion shares from Monday’s 776 million shares.

Financials including banking group Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and insurer Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. gained ground on a rise in U.S. long-term interest rates.

Toyota Motor Corp., Sony Corp. and other export-oriented issues rose on hopes for a global economic recovery.

Among other winners were clothing store chain Fast Retailing Co. and technology investor SoftBank Group Corp.

Meanwhile, Nintendo Co. fell after two days of gains.

Also on the negative side were Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. and optical equipment-maker Olympus Corp.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average surged 330 points to end at 23,330.

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