Nikkei nears pre-pandemic levels on COVID-19 treatment hopes
TOKYO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose on Tuesday, trading close to levels before the COVID-19 crisis hammered markets early this year, as new developments on the COVID-19 vaccine and treatment fronts lifted sentiment and spurred hopes of a quicker economic recovery.
The benchmark Nikkei share average .N225 gained 1.71% to 23,378.47 by the midday break, just a hair below 23,386.74, and a level unseen since Feb. 21. There were 216 advancers on the index against nine decliners.
The broader Topix .TOPX gained 1.51% to 1,631.33. All but two of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange traded higher, with airlines .IAIRL.T, textiles .ITXTL.T and insurance .IINSU.T being the three top performers.
All three major indexes on Wall Street closed higher overnight as President Donald Trump hailed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's authorisation of a COVID-19 treatment that uses blood plasma from recovered patients.
The Trump administration was also considering fast-tracking an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, the Financial Times reported.
Providing additional support to risk appetite, Japan's capital Tokyo reported 95 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the lowest single-day tally since July 8.
Separately, worries over U.S.-China relations eased as the U.S. Trade Representative's Office said top U.S. and Chinese officials saw progress on resolving issues over the Phase 1 trade deal, and both sides were committed to the success of the agreement.
Among top performing sectors, airlines rose 5.81% after U.S.-listed peers jumped overnight. ANA Holdings 9202.T climbed 6.44%, while Japan Airlines 9201.T added 5.07%.
Nintendo 7974.T hit a 12-year high before reversing course to trade 1.73% lower on profit-taking.
(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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