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Japanese Shares Track U.S. Futures Higher, Tech Leads Gains

TOKYO, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Japanese shares shook off early weakness on Monday, led by tech and pharma stocks, as U.S. futures rose on hopes that lawmakers would soon pass a massive economic stimulus to revive growth in the world’s largest economy.

The Nikkei share average was up 0.34% at 28,728.80 by 0153 GMT after declining 0.2% earlier, while the broader Topix inched up 0.08% to 1,858.17.

“U.S. markets moved irregularly last week but investors were relieved this morning after seeing the rise in U.S. futures,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist, Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

The Joe Biden administration and Democratic and Republican lawmakers discussing a new $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief agreed on Sunday that the most important priority should be producing and efficiently distributing a vaccine.

The Dow and S&P 500 ended modestly lower on Friday, dragged down by losses in blue-chip technology stalwarts Intel and IBM following their quarterly results, as hopes for a full economic reopening in the coming months waned.

Meanwhile, tech shares advanced further in Japan. Toshiba surged 15.25% after the Tokyo Stock Exchange approved on Friday the company’s return to the bourse’s first section.

Nikon jumped 6.4%, making it the top gainer in the Nikkei index, while Shin-Etsu Chemical rose 1.92% and Renesas Electronics added 2.6%.

Drugmakers rose on renewed hopes for COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs. Takeda Pharmaceutical added 3.71% after Japan’s biggest drugmaker last week announced the start of a study of Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine in Japan.

Eisai rose 3.07% and Astellas Pharma gained 2.37%.

Sumitomo Corp rose 1.55% despite news that it would book an additional impairment loss of about 30 billion yen ($289 million) on its Ambatovy nickel project in Madagascar for the December quarter.

Local media reported the trading house would stop investing in new oil development projects as it shifts away from fossil fuels businesses.

The top percentage losers in the index were Sharp, down 3.39%, Kobe Steel, down 2.97%, and Sony Corp , down 2.81%.

(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

Source: Reuters

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