TOKYO, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average closed at a 29-1/2-year high on Wednesday, buoyed by hopes of a U.S. stimulus package and progress in a COVID-19 vaccine, but gains were capped by some profit-taking after a strong November rally.
Nikkei ended up 0.05% at 26,800.98, its highest closing since April 1991, extending its bull run after U.S. elections. The broader Topix rose 0.32% to 1,773.97, edging near a two-year peak touched last Friday.
“With the Nikkei so close to 27,000, investors are getting a bit cautious. We’ve priced in a lot of good news. But I don’t think the market will fall that much either,” said Naoya Oshikubo, senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.
Sentiment was also fuelled as U.S. politicians put forth a flurry of proposals on coronavirus relief packages after a month-long partisan standoff.
Hopes that vaccines can reduce the need for strict social restrictions next year also underpinned the market, especially value shares.
Honda Motor rose 5.1% while retailer Seven&i Holdings climbed 3.3% and Takeda Pharmaceutical added 2.9%.
Topix value rose 1.01%, outperforming 0.32% gains in growth shares.
The Nikkei’s gains were checked by a 4.8% drop in Recruit Holdings, after the recruitment advertiser said its shareholders would sell 416.8 billion yen ($4 billion) worth of shares in the company to overseas investors.
Some other large-cap growth shares were bruised by profit-taking, with both Sony and Hoya losing 2.0% each.
Ito en lost 3.8% after the beverage firm cut its annual net profit outlook by more than a half.
Nishimatsuya Chain dropped 2.7% after the retailer of kids clothes’ earnings upgrade prompted profit-taking from the shares’ 60% gains so far this year.
Workman fell 5.0% after the clothing retailer’s November sales grew 8.6% but came in short of market expectations.
Reporting by Hideyuki Sano, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Rashmi Aich