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Roundup: Japan's Nikkei ends higher on hopes for eased Fed rate hikes

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TOKYO, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) — Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock index closed at more than a two-and-a-half month high on Thursday, tracking gains on Wall Street overnight, amid renewed hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve may ease the pace of its interest rate hikes.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average added 267.35 points, or 0.95 percent, from Tuesday to close the day at 28,383.09, marking its highest closing level since Sept. 13.

The broader Topix index, meanwhile, gained 24.05 points, or 1.21 percent, higher to finish at 2,018.80.

Financial markets here were closed on Wednesday for a national holiday.

Local brokers said the market inherited an upbeat mood from Wall Street closing higher overnight.

This was following minutes from the Fed showing that its officials suggested that its aggressive rate hikes to combat inflation could be slowed and smaller steps adopted rather than front-loading, they explained.

“Investors had started pricing in a 0.50 percentage point hike in December after the release of weaker-than-expected U.S. inflation data earlier this month,” Maki Sawada, a strategist in Nomura Securities Co.’s investment content department, was quoted as saying.

“Such views strengthened further after the Fed’s minutes came out,” said Sawada.

Other market strategists said the Fed’s minutes, as well as lifting U.S. shares overnight, also had positive effect on the buying of domestic issues.

“The minutes lifted sentiment, and global investors were also seen targeting Japanese shares,” Chihiro Ohta, assistant general manager at the investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities, was quoted as saying.

On the Prime Market, marine transportation, bank, and wholesale trade-oriented issues comprised those that gained the most.

Heavily weighted semiconductor-linked issues found favor and propped up the broader market, with Advantest jumping 4.6 percent, while Tokyo Electron finished 3.5 percent higher.

Shipping firms were also among notable advancers, with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. rising 4 percent, while Nippon Yusen climbed 6 percent.

Pharmaceutical firm Shionogi & Co. ended 0.3 percent higher, after it said it had applied for approval of its COVID-19 vaccine with Japan’s health ministry, marking the first application of a COVID-19 vaccine developed in Japan.

The move follows the ministry granting emergency approval for its COVID-19 oral drug Xocova, another first for a domestic drugmaker.

Other issues advanced following Japan’s shock win over Germany in their World Cup opening game.

British-themed pub-chain, Hub, which broadcasts games, leapt 10.5 percent on hopes for increased patronage during the Qatar-based FIFA World Cup.

CyberAgent also benefited from Japan’s win, with the internet platform, which is broadcasting World Cup soccer games for free, leaping 7.4 percent.

By the close of play, issues that rose outpaced those that fell by 1,534 to 248, while 54 ended the day unchanged.

On the Prime Market on Thursday, 1,311.10 million shares changed hands, rising from Tuesday’s volume of 1,204.28 million shares.

The turnover on the penultimate trading day of the week came to 3,334.93 billion yen (about 24 billion U.S. dollars).

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