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Japanese shares jump on Fed's growth view, rate pledge

TOKYO, March 18 (Reuters) - Japanese shares jumped on Thursday, tracking Wall Street’s record highs, after the U.S. Federal Reserve projected a rapid jump in economic growth and pledged to keep interest rates low.

The Nikkei share average jumped 1.53% to 30,372.88 by 0150 GMT, while the broader Topix advanced 1.16% to 2,007.05.

“Investors have a lot of reasons to sell stocks at the end of the fiscal year end March, but today their appetite for making bets greatly exceeded the sell-off pressure,” said Takatoshi Itoshima, strategist at Pictet Asset Management.

“The Fed gave investors confidence by brushing off uncertainties of the rate outlook by pledging to keep its interest rate at close to zero.”

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at record highs on Wednesday after the Fed said the U.S. economy is heading for its strongest growth in nearly 40 years, fuelled by massive federal fiscal stimulus and the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.

In Japan, chip-related shares advanced, with Nikkei heavyweights Tokyo Electron jumping 3.82%, Fanuc gaining 3.02% and Advantest rising 4.54%.

Toyota Motor advanced 2.82%, leading the Topix gain. Honda Motor inched up 0.55% and Nissan Motor edged up 0.59%.

The airliners gained, with ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines rising 0.57% and 1.2%, respectively, as the Japanese government’s advisory panel on coronavirus countermeasures approved a plan to let the state of emergency expire in the Tokyo area as scheduled on March 21.

There were 184 advancers on the Nikkei index against 39 decliners, with financial stocks among the top gainers on the main bourse.

Daiichi Sankyo, up 3.4 %, and Fanuc advanced the most among the Topix 30, while SoftBank Group and Seven & i Holdings Co Ltd were among the underperformers, losing 0.82% and 0.11%, respectively.

Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Devika Syamnath

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