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Nikkei closes near 29-1/2-year high; vaccine caution weighs

TOKYO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average closed near a 29-1/2-year high on Thursday as technology shares tracked their U.S. peers higher, although gains were checked by profit-booking following a rally fuelled by optimism over COVID-19 vaccine-related developments.

The benchmark Nikkei settled 0.68% higher at 25,520.88, after hitting its highest level since June 5, 1991 earlier in the session.

Stocks briefly fell into negative territory in afternoon trade, as some investors turned cautious about the rally and booked profits.

“Everybody cheered the vaccine headlines, but they have begun to realise that there are many challenges, such as logistics and vaccine performance,” said Daisuke Uchiyama, a senior strategist at Okasan Securities.

An increase in coronavirus cases in Europe and the United States is making it difficult for investors to have an optimistic view about the economic recovery, Uchiyama said.

Overnight, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended 2% higher, after “stay-at-home” stocks bounced back from two straight sessions of sharp losses as investors moved away from economically sensitive sectors back to tech.

Japan’s tech-related shares such as heavyweight SoftBank Group benefited from gains in their U.S. counterparts. SoftBank climbed around 1.5%.

Among the top 30 core Topix names, Nintendo jumped 4.3% to snap four consecutive sessions of losses.

The broader Topix slipped 0.16% to 1,726.23 and snapped seven consecutive sessions of gains. Only eight of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange traded higher.

Sectors such as real estate, airlines and financials, which surged on vaccine hopes, fell between 1.23% and 3.36%.

Elsewhere, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings fell about 5% after it reported a half-year net loss of 36.79 billion yen ($349.48 million).

Some of its department store peers followed suit. Takashimaya dropped 4.84%, while J.Front Retailing lost 4.68%.

$1 = 105.2700 yen Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu and Tokyo markets team; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Subhranshu Sahu

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