By Stanley White
TOKYO, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Japanese shares hit multi-year highs on Tuesday as progress in developing an inexpensive coronavirus vaccine boosted hopes of a swift economic recovery, with sentiment aided by a formal transition approval for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.
The Nikkei 225 Index ended up 2.50% at 26,165.59, the highest close since May 1991. The broader Topix rose 2.23% to 1,765.91, the highest in more than two years. Energy, real estate, and financial shares led the advance.
AstraZeneca said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine could be up to 90% effective, cheaper to make and easier to ship than rival vaccines, lifting global equities.
Stocks also got a boost after Biden received an approval to begin the transition to the White House and after a report that he would pick former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to be the next Treasury secretary.
"We're getting closer to a vaccine, and we will also get more policy support from the incoming U.S. administration, which are both positive for stocks," said Kiyoshi Ishigane, chief fund manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co.
Japan and many other countries are in the midst of a third pandemic wave, and an affordable vaccine is considered essential to end the coronavirus restrictions.
The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd, up 4.98%, followed by Hoya Corp that gained 4.54%.
The underperformers among the Topix 30 were KDDI Corp , down 1.25%, followed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp that lost 1.20%.
There were 205 advancers on the Nikkei index against 19 decliners.
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board was 1.2 billion, compared to the average of 1.15 billion in the past 30 days. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Ramakrishnan M and Uttaresh.V)