By Ayai Tomisawa TOKYO, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average rose to a new 15-year high on Thursday after hedge funds were seen buying futures, while index-heavyweight stocks rose as investor risk appetite improved following benign comments by Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

The Nikkei ended 1.1 percent higher at 18,785.79, the highest closing level since April 2000.

The broader Topix gained 0.9 percent to 1,521.68 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 added 0.9 percent to 13,791.15.

Market watchers said sentiment was also lifted by news that the Federation of National Public Service Personnel Mutual Aid Associations, the body managing Japan’s national civil service pensions, will raise its target allocation for domestic stocks to 25 percent from 8 percent.

(Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)