Tokyo, Japan (BBN)-Japan’s stocks traded at a 15-year high Thursday while Australia also rose, although weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data kept a cap on gains in the region.

The Nikkei Stock Average NIK, +0.10%  extended gains for a fifth-straight day, rising 0.4% to 20,275.24. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.86%  was up 0.8% at 5,655.30, after its currency continued to weaken, reports Market Watch.

The Nikkei closed at a 15 year-high Wednesday after data showed Japan’s economy grew at its fastest pace in a year during the first quarter.

“The market capitalization of the entire Japanese stock market is now equal to its peak in 1989, but that is no cause for alarm, because corporations are 2.2 times more profitable,” Nomura Securities equity market strategist Junichi Wako said. In terms of profitability, profit growth, and return on equity, prices aren’t out of hand, he said.

Shares were also supported by signals from the US Federal Reserve that it wouldn’t be ready to raise interest rates in June, due to sluggishness in the economy at the start of the year. Still, US stocks ended slightly lower.


The Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.14%  was down 0.5%, after a reading of the HSBC China manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, a gauge of the country’s economy, came in at 49.1 in May, compared with a projected 49.3. The reading was at 48.9 in April. A level below 50 indicates contraction.

The Australian dollar AUDUSD, +0.3937% which has been weakening the past week, slipped to as low as $0.7877 from $0.7885 against the greenback, after the China PMI data.

The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +1.37%  was roughly flat.

Bradford Frischkorn and Dominique Fong contributed to this article.