The key Nikkei index of Tokyo stocks rose for the eighth consecutive day to end Wednesday at a nearly six-month high above the 30,000 threshold, lifted by hopes for a normalization of pandemic-hit economic activities under a new government.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 265.07 points, or 0.89 percent, from Tuesday at 30,181.21, its highest closing since March 18. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 16.23 points, or 0.79 percent, higher at 2,079.61.

Gainers were led by information and communication, pulp and paper, and metal product issues.

The U.S. dollar was firm in the lower 110 yen range after climbing to the level overnight as it was bought on expectations of a wider interest rate gap between the United States and Japan, following a rise in U.S. Treasury yields, dealers said.

At 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 110.24-25 yen compared with 110.25-35 yen in New York and 109.89-90 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The euro was quoted at $1.1830-1831 and 130.42-46 yen against $1.1837-1847 and 130.55-65 yen in New York and $1.1875-1877 and 130.50-54 yen in Tokyo late Tuesday afternoon.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond rose 0.005 percentage point from Tuesday's close to 0.040 percent as the debt was sold tracking overnight losses in the U.S. Treasury market, dealers said.

Shares marked the longest rally for this year on expectations for a possible new economic relief package and coronavirus response under the new Liberal Democratic Party leader -- and thus the prime minister -- to be elected on Sept. 29, brokers said.

The Nikkei previously logged an eight-day rally in November last year when the market was heartened by progress in development of coronavirus vaccines.

With a recent downtrend in new COVID-19 infection cases, expectations for government's economic reopening plans such as the use of so-called vaccine passports for commercial purposes are high among investors, said Koichi Fujishiro, a senior economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

Since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was the leader restricting economic activities, his successor would be seen as easier to change course and push policies to relax such restrictions, Fujishiro said.

"Investors have become able to paint a scenario that Japan will finally see an economic recovery similar to one experienced by the United States from this spring," he said, citing advances in such shares as eateries amid progress in Japan's inoculation program.

Among restaurant operators, Watami advanced 26 yen, or 2.6 percent, to 1,008 yen, Saizeriya rose 45 yen, or 1.7 percent, to 2,671 yen and Royal Holdings gained 32 yen, or 1.6 percent, to 2,065 yen.

On the First Section, advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1,599 to 474, while 116 ended unchanged.

Takeda Pharmaceutical added 37 yen, or 1.0 percent, to finish at 3,815 yen a day after the health ministry said Japan will receive 150 million doses of U.S. pharmaceutical giant Novavax Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine from as early as the beginning of 2022.

Takeda will handle manufacturing and distribution of the Novavax vaccine in Japan.

SoftBank Group climbed 322 yen, or 4.6 percent, to 7,265 yen a day after the technology conglomerate said it will acquire a stake in Deutsche Telekom AG, a move that will allow the Japanese company to expand its communications business into Europe.

Automaker Toyota edged down 28 yen, or 0.3 percent, to 9,977 yen after saying Tuesday it will spend 1.5 trillion yen by 2030 on the development and supply of batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles. Toyota met selling as investors locked in recent gains, brokers said.

But Panasonic, which runs a joint venture with Toyota to produce batteries for EVs, gained 17.5 yen, or 1.2 percent, to 1,429.5 yen, and GS Yuasa, a lithium-ion battery supplier to Toyota, jumped 99 yen, or 3.8 percent, to 2,734 yen.

Trading volume on the main section rose to 1,320.22 million shares from Tuesday's 1,257.38 million shares.

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