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Japanese shares end lower as virus resurgence hits risk appetite

TOKYO, April 14 (Reuters) - Japanese shares ended lower on Wednesday, weighed down by cyclicals, as a resurgence in COVID-19 cases cast doubts over prospects of economic rebound, while falling interest rates dragged banking and insurer stocks.

The Nikkei share average was down 0.28% at 29,668.74, as of 0202 GMT, while the broader Topix slipped 0.23% to 1,953.80.

“The expectations for the reopening of the economy shrank because rollouts of vaccines in Japan is much slower than other countries, while the number of new COVID-19 cases is on the rise,” said Shoichi Arisawa, general manager of the investment research department at IwaiCosmo Securities.

“The interest rates could fall if the economy slows down. That has sent bank and insurer shares lower on Wednesday.”

Japanese government bond yields tracked overnight U.S. Treasury yields lower on Wednesday.

Vaccinations in Japan have been the slowest among developed economies, while infections are on the rise, and experts worry Tokyo is on the cusp of an “explosive” jump in cases with 100 days to go until Tokyo is scheduled to host the Olympics.

Shipping firms and textiles led declines on the main bourse, with clothing materials maker Toray Industries losing 3.42%.

Department store operator J.Front Retailing dropped 7.42% to became the biggest loser on the Nikkei after flagging a disappointing annual profit forecast.

Insurers fell, with Dai-ichi Life Holdings down 2.13% and T&D Holdings losing 3.89%.

Mega banks also slipped, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group losing 0.46% and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group dipping 0.82.

Toshiba jumped 5.77% amid reports of more plans of bids for the conglomerate, though gains were limited after the company announced resignation of Chief Executive Officer Nobuaki Kurumatani. (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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