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Japanese shares gain tracking U.S. futures; tech and pharma stocks boost

TOKYO, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose on Monday, erasing early losses, 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 gained 0.67% at 28.822.29, after declining 0.2% earlier, while the broader Topix inched up 0.29% to 1,862.00.

“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.

Asian shares also rose as concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and delays in vaccine supplies were eclipsed by expectations of a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plan to help revive the U.S. economy.

U.S. lawmakers from both parties said they had agreed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority, but some Republicans objected to such a hefty package only a month after Congress passed a $900 billion relief measure.

Tech shares advanced in Japan, with Toshiba surging 16.88% after the Tokyo Stock Exchange approved on Friday the electronics and infrastructure conglomerate’s return to the bourse’s first section.

Electronic components maker Alps Alpine jumped 6.12%, making it the biggest gainer on the Nikkei index, and camera maker Nikon rose 5.17%.

Drugmakers rose on renewed hopes of COVID-19 vaccine roll-outs. Takeda Pharmaceutical added 3.54% after Japan’s biggest drugmaker last week announced the start of a study of Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine in the country.

Eisai rose 2.8% and Astellas Pharma gained 2.1%.

Sumitomo Corp rose 1.55% as local media reported the trading house would stop investing in new oil development projects as it shifts away from fossil fuels businesses. (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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