Roundup: Japan's Nikkei closes above 30,000-level for 1st time in over 30 years

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TOKYO, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks ended higher Monday, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index closing above the 30,000-mark for the first time in more than 30 years, as sentiment was bolstered by hopes for U.S. stimulus measures, solid domestic growth data and approval of Japan's first vaccine.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 564.08 points, or 1.91 percent, from Friday to close the day at 30,084.15, marking its highest closing level since Aug. 2, 1990.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, added 20.06 points, or 1.04 percent, to finish at 1,953.94.

U.S. shares rising late last week provided a positive lead, local brokers said, along with hopes for U.S. stimulus measures to be enacted to help tackle the dire novel coronavirus crisis in the world's largest economy.

They added that solid domestic earnings and outlooks from some bellwether firms added to an upbeat mood, as did Japan's latest GDP data.

In the October-December period, Japan's economy grew a real 3.0 percent, or an annualized 12.7 percent, from the previous quarter, as demand started to return and businesses rebounded from the effects of having to shutter operations during the spring state of emergency, the Cabinet Office's data released Monday indicated.

"Strong exports were foreseen from recent earnings reports, but the expansion in private consumption was bigger-than-expected, showing that businesses outside the dining out sector were solid," Koichi Fujishiro, a senior economist at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, was quoted as saying.

Some economists said that a contraction was likely in the current quarter owing to a second state of emergency being issued on Jan. 7 for the Greater Tokyo area, before being expanded to cover a total of 11 prefectures, amid the virus' resurgence.

The emergency period was then extended for one month to cover all but one of the prefectures and is slated to end on March 7.

Analysts said that businesses being requested to shorten operating hours, with bars and restaurants being asked to close doors by 8:00 p.m. and people to refrain for making unnecessary trips outdoors, is again although to a lesser extent, taking its toll on consumption and expenditure.

However, they added that considering Japan booked its second sharpest contraction in 2020 since record keeping began, shrinking 4.8 percent in real terms, the world's third-largest economy was like heading towards a recovery as corporate earnings reports and trade data have suggested.

Some concerns remain, however, that the market may now be due for a correction having surpassed the psychologically important 30,000 line and investors may take a breather this week amid signs of overheating, rather than chase the market's upside higher.

"Stocks have risen so fast you could say they've broken the speed limit," Ayako Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, was quoted as saying.

"Earnings growth has already been priced in for at least a year from now. There is reluctance to chase the upside from here, but stocks won't fall too much," Sera said.

Japan planning to begin inoculations of its first vaccine this week also supported buying, some market strategists said.

The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was given approval to be used in Japan by a health ministry panel on Friday and health minster Norihisa Tamura formally approved the country's first vaccine on Sunday.

The Japanese government has said it aims to start administering jabs to medical workers starting this week.

Deals have been inked by the Japanese government with Pfizer, AstraZeneca Plc. and Moderna Inc. to receive enough doses for Japan's population of 126 million.

As for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine specifically, Pfizer has agreed to supply Japan with enough doses for 72 million people by the end of the year.

By the close of play, mining, precision instrument, and oil and coal product-linked issues comprised those that gained the most.

Fanuc Corp. and Renesas Electronics were notable winners, advancing 3.4 percent and 0.6 percent respectively, while Olympus surged 12.2 percent, after upgrading its earnings forecast.

Bucking the upward trend, Kao Corp. retreated 0.48 percent, while Hitachi Ltd. dropped 0.94 percent.

Issues that rose outpaced those that declined by 1,339 to 773 on the First Section, while 81 ended the day unchanged.

On the main section on Monday, 1,275.91 million shares changed hands, dropping from Friday's volume of 1,343.98 million shares.

The turnover on the first trading day of the week came to 2,603.842 billion yen (24.706 billion U.S. dollars). Enditem

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