The Nikkei Stock Average neared the 20,000 threshold Thursday, ending at a fresh 15-year high amid optimism over Japanese corporate earnings.
The 225-issue Nikkei index ended up 147.91 points, or 0.75 percent, from Wednesday at 19,937.72, the highest close since April 2000.
The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 5.72 points, or 0.36 percent, higher at 1,594.19.
The Nikkei climbed in the morning as market sentiment was lifted by hopes that expected improvement in Japanese companies’ business performance will be confirmed in their earnings reports due out later this month and next month.
The gains in key indexes leveled off later in the morning, but Akira Tanoue of Nomura Securities Co.’s investment research department said, “The market is itching to reach 20,000, and there isn’t much keeping it from doing so.”
The Nikkei neared the psychologically important line several times during the day, at one point coming within 50 points of it, but ultimately came up short.
Sentiment was also supported by speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve would wait to raise interest rates until the latter part of the year amid some signs of economic slowdown, extending the market’s access to easy money.