TOKYO, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Japanese shares inched up on Thursday to come within sight of a near three-decade high, as vaccine rollouts buoyed hopes of an economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and heavy machinery stocks gained on a policy shift to greener energy.
Japan’s Nikkei share average rose 0.53% by midday to 26,665.72, edging closer to Monday’s high of 26,905, its highest level since early 1991. The broader Topix gained 0.56% to 1,775.18.
Rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines are propping up hopes that the economic recovery can gain momentum next year, despite the headwinds from a recently-found more infectious strain and a delay in U.S. pandemic relief package.
Aeon rose 3.9% to hit a record high, after the retailer revised its earnings outlook higher for the year to February as consumer confidence picked up after a coronavirus-induced slump.
Heavy machinery firms gained after Nikkei newspaper reported Japan’s new zero emission strategy would target a massive increase in offshore wind power.
IHI rose 6.3% and Kawasaki Heavy gained 4.4%.
The positive mood also saw retail investors flocking to recently-listed shares, with WealthNavi gaining 21%.
On the other hand, Hino Motors tumbled 9.0% after the truck maker said it would suspend production at two factories in North America until next September due to problems in U.S. engine certification testing process.
SoftBank Group dropped 1.8% after China launched an investigation into Alibaba Group for suspected monopolistic behaviour and will summon its Ant Group to meet in coming days.
SoftBank Group is the biggest share holder of the Chinese e-commerce giant.
Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Rashmi Aich