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Japan stocks hit 29-yr high on vaccine cheer, Biden transition

·2-min read

TOKYO, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Japanese shares hit a 29-year high on Tuesday as progress in developing an inexpensive coronavirus vaccine boosted hopes of a swift recovery, while a formal transition approval for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden also lifted sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 Index 2.58% to 26,186.53 by 0204 GMT, reaching its highest since May 1991. The broader Topix was up 2.23% at 1,765.91. 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 U.S. President-elect Joe Biden received 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 ending restrictions on business activity put in place to slow the spread of the virus.

The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd up 4.42%, followed by Fanuc Corp gaining 3.67%.

The underperformers among the Topix 30 were KDDI Corp down 0.76%, followed by Nintendo Co Ltd losing 0.09%.

There were 219 advancers on the Nikkei index against 5 decliners.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board was 0.63 billion, compared to the average of 1.15 billion in the past 30 days. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)