By Stanley White
TOKYO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Japanese shares closed higher for a second straight session on Thursday as expectations for further U.S. economic stimulus and a pledge of support from the Federal Reserve lifted sentiment.
Some traders were slightly cautious as Japan grapples with a third wave of infections, but positive developments in the United States offered support. Democrats and Republicans sounded hopeful about agreeing on a $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill, and the Fed vowed to keep pouring cash into financial markets until its economy is on a sound footing. could easily fall on profit-taking after the Nikkei hit a 29-1/2-year high last week, but analysts have an upbeat mid-term outlook.
"Excessive amounts of liquidity provided by central banks have been the backbone of stock markets this year, and this will continue into next year," said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS ) Securities.
Japan Post Insurance 7181.T rose 10.05% on media reports that it would buy back $2.9 billion of its own shares from its parent Japan Post Holdings 6178.T , whose shares rose 3.58%. Holdings 4901.T fell 3.0% after a media report said that Japan's government concluded it could not measure the effectiveness of the company's Avigan drug as a treatment for COVID-19. were 56 advancers on the Nikkei index against 166 decliners .
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board .TOPX was 0.98 billion, compared with the average of 1.35 billion in the past 30 days.
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