TOKYO, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Japanese shares fell on Wednesday as investors booked profits in chip-related shares following a decline in the Nasdaq index, while the pandemic-driven stocks shined on hopes for normalization in the economy.
The Nikkei share average slipped 0.7% to 29,952.25 by 0203 GMT, while the broader Topix fell 0.86% to 1921.68.
“Unstable moves of the U.S. market overnight has made investors in Japan get worried about the outlook,” said Koichi Kurose, chief strategist at Resona Asset Management.
“Investors are rotating their targets now because of the rollouts of vaccines, which makes the virus-hit shares attractive.”
The Nasdaq was the only major U.S. stock index to lose ground overnight while Wall Street reversed its losses, with the S&P 500 and the Dow reclaiming positive territory.
Chip and electronics shares fell in Japan, with Nidec falling 4.3%, Murata Manufacturing slipping 4.05%, Shin-Etsu Chemical losing 3.44% and Tokyo Electron falling 1.81%.
On the other hand, shares of department store operators jumped. J.Front Retailing, up 5.85%, was the biggest gainer in the Nikkei, followed by Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings , which rose 5.74%, and Takashimaya that gained 5.7%.
Governors of Osaka and other main western cities have requested early lifting of a state of emergency as Japan’s COVID-19 cases began falling, according to local media reports.
Railway and airline shares gained, with Japan Airlines rising 4.68% and ANA Holdings gaining 3.25%.
Central Japan Railway jumped 1.88% even as the operator of bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka flagged bigger losses for the year ended March. East Japan Railway rose 1.77%.
The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix included Mitsui & Co, up 2.69 %, followed by Hitachi Ltd that rose 2.53%.
The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Hoya Corp , down 5.44%, followed by Keyence Corp that lost 4.65%.
(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)