TOKYO, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks closed slightly higher Thursday, driven by hopes for normalized economic activity due to COVID-19 vaccine development and expectations that U.S. stimulus talks will resume after being stalled for months.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average increased 8.39 points, or 0.03 percent, from Wednesday at 26,809.37.
The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, gained 1.28 points, or 0.07 percent, to finish at 1,775.25.
Marine and air transportation and pulp and paper issues comprised those that gained the most by the close of play.
Throughout the day, the U.S. dollar remained steady in the mid-104 yen range, boosted by improved risk appetite following Britain's approval of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and German partner BioNTech SE, said some dealers.
After moving narrowly around Wednesday's closing level, the Nikkei entered into positive territory. The market saw buying in shares perceived undervalued due to the coronavirus outbreak offset by selling to lock in profits, brokers said.
"With good news and bad news mixed, such as signs of U.S. lawmakers restarting negotiations on a stimulus package and stay-at-home orders issued in Los Angeles, investors hesitated to chase the upside further," Makoto Sengoku, a market analyst at the Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, was quoted by local media.
On the First Section, advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1,266 to 834, while 77 finished unchanged.
Airlines and shipping firms, which were hit hard by the pandemic, drew buying in anticipation for a recovery in demand.
Among them, Japan Airlines increased 57 yen, or 2.9 percent, to 2,057 yen and ANA Holdings gained 61.00 yen, or 2.5 percent, to 2,550.00 yen.
Meanwhile, Nippon Yusen climbed 56 yen, or 2.4 percent, to 2,425 yen and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines was up 130 yen, or 4.6 percent, 2,952 yen.
On the main section on Thursday, 1,233.43 million shares changed hands, decreasing from Wednesday's volume of 1,428.81 million shares.