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Japan shares end lower on caution ahead of U.S. inflation data; Eisai jumps

TOKYO, June 9 (Reuters) - Japanese equities closed lower on Wednesday, on profit-booking in shippers and semiconductor stocks, with investors awaiting U.S. inflation data as it could influence how soon the Federal Reserve pares its stimulus programme.

Financial firms and insurers declined after a retreat in long-term U.S. Treasury yields dampened the outlook for returns on their portfolios.

Eisai Co, however, surged 16.26%, rising by the daily limit for a second straight session after its Alzheimer’s drug received a nod from U.S. regulators on Monday.

The Nikkei share average ended 0.35% lower at 28,860.80, while the broader Topix was down 0.28% at 1,957.14.

“Japanese investors want to see the U.S. CPI number tomorrow, and if it’s not faster than expected, that should come as a relief to markets and could very well result in a rally,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

Right now though, “there’s a strong wait-and-see attitude overall in markets,” he said, adding that investors booked profits and squared positions ahead of the data.

The Topix’s sea transport subsector was the biggest decliner, sliding 3.33%, following its surge to the highest in more than a decade. Kawasaki Kisen led declines on the Nikkei with a 4.54% tumble, while Mitsui OSK Lines lost 3.59%.

Semiconductor firm Lasertec dropped 3.86%, declining for a third day after climbing to a record peak.

Air transport was the best performing subsector, rising 3.26%, followed by a 3.11% jump for real estate , as Japan’s accelerating coronavirus vaccination programme buoyed the outlook for people to return to offices and start travelling by airplane again.

Pharmaceutical companies rose 1.18%.

After Eisai, Sumitomo Realty and Development Co was the best performer on the Nikkei, with a 7.55% rally. Mitsubishi Estate and Tokyo Tatemono followed suit, rising 4.05% and 3.75%, respectively. Airline ANA Holdings added 3.38%.

Reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; editing by Uttaresh.V

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