The Nikkei stock index ended just shy of the 40,000 mark in a fresh record high Friday as a wide range of large-cap shares drew buying on eased concerns for the U.S. economy, and the weak yen continued to boost exporters.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 744.63 points, or 1.90 percent, from Thursday at 39,910.82. The broader Topix index finished 33.69 points, or 1.26 percent, higher at 2,709.42, its highest level since February 1990.

On the top-tier Prime Market, gainers were led by mining, oil and coal product, and electric appliance shares.

Financial data screen in Tokyo shows the Nikkei Stock Average closing at 39,910.82 on March 1, 2024. (Kyodo)

The U.S. dollar rose to the mid-150 yen range after comments by Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda at a press conference in Sao Paulo on Thursday suggested the central bank is not yet ready to shift from its negative interest rate policy.

At 5 p.m., the U.S. dollar fetched 150.49-50 yen compared with 149.92-150.02 yen in New York and 149.66-69 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The euro was quoted at $1.0811-0813 and 162.70-74 yen against $1.0800-0810 and 162.00-10 yen in New York, and $1.0828-0829 and 162.07-11 yen in Tokyo late Thursday afternoon.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond inched up 0.005 percentage point from Thursday's close to 0.715 percent.

Stocks were strong from the outset, led by buying in heavyweight technology shares that tracked record-high closes on Wall Street overnight, rallying higher later in the afternoon on renewed confidence in the robustness of the U.S. economy, analysts said.

"Japanese investors' risk-on appetite improved on continued hopes for a soft landing in the United States" after U.S. personal consumption expenditure for January came in line with market expectations, said Toshikazu Horiuchi, equity strategist at IwaiCosmo Securities Co.

The Nikkei benchmark refreshed its all-time high as the yen's depreciation also lifted shares of export-related companies on prospects of boosted overseas profits when repatriated, but stopped just short of crossing the milestone 40,000 line.

The market has soared to new heights since Feb. 22 on continued high expectations for Japanese equities, but "a correction is likely due soon as this current momentum cannot continue (indefinitely)," said Horiuchi.

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