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Nikkei rockets to all-time peak as Nvidia optimism drives chips rally

(Adds Nikkei decliners in 11th paragraph)

TOKYO, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average surged to a record high on Thursday, eclipsing the 1989 bubble-era peak, as chip-related stocks led across-the-board gains after U.S. chipmaker Nvidia's outlook beat market expectations.

The Nikkei closed up 2.19% at 39,098.68, having earlier risen to a high of 39,156.97, topping the previous all-time closing and intraday highs set on Dec. 29, 1989, at the peak of the nation's bubble economy.

The previous intraday high for the index was 38,957.44 and closing high was 38,915.87.

Japan's benchmark has rocketed about 52% from its January 2023 trough, supercharged by a tech-rally, corporate governance changes and rising exporters' profits thanks to a weak yen.

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Nvidia shares surged 6% overnight after it forecast fiscal first-quarter revenue above estimates on robust demand for its chips that dominate the market for artificial intelligence (AI).

"For us traders, this marks the arrival of a new era," said Tsutomu Yamada, senior market analyst at au kabu.com Securities.

"It feels like the stock market is telling us that we've finally escaped from deflation and a new world has opened up."

Tokyo Electron jumped 6% to give the biggest boost to the Nikkei, while chip-testing equipment maker Advantest surged 7.5%.

Another chip-related share, Screen Holdings, rallied more than 10%, while start-up investor SoftBank Group rose more than 5%.

Electric machinery rose 2.4% to be the biggest gainer among the Tokyo Stock Exchange's 33 industry sub-indexes.

Of the 225 components in the Nikkei, 170 stocks rose and 54 fell, with one flat. The drug sector led losers, down 0.59%.

Some traders are betting on the Nikkei to rally further.

"I expect the 40,000 level to become the market's next objective for the Nikkei, said Tony Sycamore, market analyst at IG in Sydney.

"If momentum names really start to get involved and add to positioning on the break of the 1989 high, we could see a blow-off type move in the short term towards 42,000."

(Reporting by Junko Fujita Editing by Shri Navaratnam)