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Japanese shares end higher as vaccine progress spurs recovery bets

TOKYO, May 28 (Reuters) - Japanese shares ended higher on Friday, as investors swooped on stocks related to the sell-off prompted by MSCI’s reshuffle in the previous session, while a steady vaccine rollout whetted risk appetite on hopes of a swift economic recovery.

The Nikkei share average rose 2.10% to 29,149.41, closing above the 29,000 level for the first time since May 10, while the broader Topix gained 1.91% to 1,947.44.

The Nikkei posted a weekly gain of 2.94%, while the Topix closed the week 2.24% higher.

“The rise is too much today and the gains are not reflecting the fundamental strength of the Japanese markets,” Shuji Hosoi, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities, said.

“This is a rebound from yesterday’s sell-offs that were related to MSCI’s regular reshuffle as well as profit-taking towards the end of the month.”

The Nikkei snapped a five-day winning run in the previous session, with a daily turnover swelling to the highest in more than three years, as 29 names were dropped from the MSCI’s main index.

Rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines have contributed to positive sentiment as investors hope a steady vaccination drive can help accelerate economic recovery, market participants said.

The gains were led by cyclical shares, with nonferrous metals makers, steel makers and machinery makers gaining the most among the 33 sub-indexes of the main bourse.

Railway-related stocks also advanced, with Central Japan Railway, the operator of the bullet trains connecting Tokyo and Osaka, gaining 2.52% and East Japan Railway rising 2.02%.

The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were SoftBank Group up 3.66 %, followed by Shin-Etsu Chemical, rising 3.65%.

Kao Corp, which lost 1.39%, was the worst performer among the Topix 30, followed by Takeda Pharmaceutical falling 1.21%.

Reporting by Junko Fujita, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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