Nikkei closes at 15-yr high on GDP surprise, led by real estate firms
TOKYO, May 20 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks closed at a 15-year peak on Wednesday, helped by data showing a surprisingly rapid pace of domestic economic growth in the January-March quarter. The Nikkei share average rose 0.9 percent to 20,196.56, its highest close since April 2000, while the broader Topix rose 0.6 percent to 1,643.40, its best since October 2007. The Japanese economy grew an annualised 2.4 percent in the January-March - the fastest in a year and above the 1.5 percent rise forecast by analysts - and outpacing growth in the United States and the euro zone during the same period. Still, growth was driven mostly by rise in inventory while capital spending fell short of market expectations, raising worries about the strength of the recovery. Investors snatched up real estate company shares after data showed banks' lending to the sector grew faster in the first three months of this year. The Tokyo Stock Exchange's real estate company index rose 3.8 percent, with Mitsubishi Estate rising 3.5 percent and Mitsui Fudosan 4.4 percent. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 rose 0.7 percent to 14,863.14. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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