Stocks continued to advance Friday on the back of strong hopes for further gains and of the weaker yen, helping the Nikkei 225 average rewrite its highest closing level in 14 years and nine months.

The key TSE gauge rose 67.51 points to close at 18,332.30, marking the best finish since May 2, 2000, and rising for the third straight session. On Thursday, it rose 65.62 points.

The Topix climbed 5.40 points to 1,500.33, ending above the 1,500 line for the first time since Dec. 26, 2007. The broader index, which rose 12.26 points Thursday, extended its winning streak to a fifth session.

Despite a fall in the Dow Jones industrial average overnight, Tokyo stock prices opened higher thanks to the yen’s weakening against other major currencies. The weaker yen shored up export-oriented automakers and electronics makers.

In the afternoon, the key indexes remained in positive territory on hopes for higher stock prices ahead, reflecting the growing belief that the economy will show a solid recovery and earnings at key export-oriented companies will increase thanks to the yen’s downtrend, brokers said.

However, the market’s upside was capped in the absence of fresh trading incentives, with many Asian markets closed due to Chinese New Year holidays, brokers said.

The Nikkei stayed at high levels, almost free of profit-taking pressure, an official at a bank-affiliated brokerage firm said.

“I feel market sentiment has changed for the better,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. “Investor hopes for further stock price rises are strong and buying on dips supported the market when stock prices lost steam slightly.”

There is room for Tokyo stocks to rise further, an official at a midsize brokerage firm said, noting that many investors missed opportunities to buy as the Nikkei climbed above 18,000.

The Greek debt problem and the unstable Ukrainian situation continue to be risk factors, but “their possible influence on the Tokyo market would be indirect and there is no major negative factor in Japan at present,” Miura said.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 994 to 721 in the first section, while 147 issues were unchanged.

Volume decreased to 2.406 billion shares from Thursday’s 2.653 billion.

General contractors Taisei and Shimizu were upbeat thanks to cyclical buying, brokers said.

Automakers Toyota, Honda and Mazda as well as camera-maker Canon and technology giant Hitachi were upbeat thanks to the weaker yen.

Also on the plus side were mobile carrier SoftBank, industrial robot-maker Fanuc and drugmaker Astellas.

On the other hand, convenience store operators Family Mart and Lawson suffered hefty losses on concerns over deterioration in their earnings following a newspaper report Friday that major retailer Aeon will accelerate openings of small discount outlets.

Megabanks Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho came under profit-taking after their recent massive gains.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average advanced 100 points to end at 18,360.