Japan shares end near 29-yr peak as vaccines, stimulus draw closer

TOKYO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Japan shares held close to a 29-1/2-year high on Thursday as major countries moved closer to rolling out coronavirus vaccines, while hopes of more stimulus also boosted sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 Index ended up a modest 0.03% at 26,809.37, but settled near its highest since April 1991, while the broader Topix rose 0.07% to 1,775.25.

Real estate, consumer cyclicals, industrial companies, and financials rose in a sign that investors are betting on sectors that will benefit most from a revival in economic growth.

Britain on Wednesday became the first western country to approve Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine and said it would start immunization early next week, while U.S. authorities plan to begin vaccinations by mid-December.

In addition, Japan’s government has committed to more fiscal spending and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to act swiftly on stimulus measures.

“There are reflationary elements in the global economy that will benefit Japanese equities,” said Masayuki Kichikawa, chief macro strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co.

“But we need to continue to hear good news about the vaccine and see no policy mistakes.”

The Nikkei has rallied 17% since the end of October on vaccine-related developments and more supportive policies from a Biden administration, but some analysts warned Japanese stocks may be overheating.

The stocks that gained the most on Thursday among the top 30 core Topix names were Central Japan Railway Co up 2.55%, followed by Mitsui & Co Ltd rising 2.13%.

The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Hoya Corp down 4.26%, followed by Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd losing 3.89%.

There were 126 advancers on the Nikkei index against 97 decliners.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 1.23 billion, compared to the average of 1.3 billion in the past 30 days. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)