TOKYO, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks ended higher on Wednesday as investors bet the healthcare sector would continue to benefit from a prolonged battle with the coronavirus, while technology shares rose on signs that Apple was eying an entry into electric cars.
The Nikkei 225 Index rose 0.33% to 26,524.79, while the broader Topix rose 0.23% to 1,765.21.
Pharmaceuticals rose 0.9% on hopes for better earnings after Mizuho Securities raised its price target for Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd and as the spread of a more contagious COVID-19 strain in Britain sparked expectations of longer battle with virus.
The healthcare sector has benefited from the pandemic due to increased demand for treatments, although the virus outbreak’s broader impact on the global economy has kept investors on edge.
“People are buying (those) stocks on dips that they expect to lead growth as they try to anticipate what will happen next year,” a dealer at a domestic broker said.
Electronic parts makers and information and communications stocks rose 0.8% and 0.03%, respectively, tracking a record close for the Nasdaq on signs that Apple Inc was moving ahead with the production of electric vehicles.
Top gainers among the top 30 core Topix names were Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd and Keyence Corp, rising 2.9% and 1.9%, respectively.
However, financials fell, showing lingering caution.
The underperformers among the Topix 30 were SoftBank Group Corp down 2.56%, followed by Honda Motor Co Ltd losing 2.33%.
Japanese automakers took a hit after a local media report that the government would set a goal of banning new sales of gasoline-powered cars by the mid 2030s.
There were 80 advancers on the Nikkei index against 141 decliners.
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.89 billion, compared to the average of 1.33 billion in the past 30 days.
(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Aditya Soni)