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Nikkei slips as rising COVID-19 infections sap risk appetite

TOKYO, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Japanese shares dipped on Tuesday as rising COVID-19 infections sapped investors appetite for risk assets and forced the government to suspend its domestic tourism promotion campaign, hitting leisure stocks.

The Nikkei share average dropped 0.31% to 26,648.83, still stuck in its familiar range over the past few weeks. The broader Topix lost 0.48% to 1,781.87.

Concerns about increasing COVID-19 infections and lockdowns around the world overshadowed optimism over the rollout of coronavirus vaccinations.

Tourism-related shares took a hit after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the travel subsidy programme dubbed “Go To Travel” would be suspended nationwide around the New Year to contain mounting COVID-19 cases.

ANA Holdings lost 6.9% after investors flipped some of its newly issued stocks while rival JAL lost 3.1%.

On the other hand, Nintendo led game-related shares higher as the worsening domestic outbreak is seen as boosting demand for game products.

Capcom rose 1.4% while GungHo Online Entertainment addde 1.6%. Gree gained 3.2% and Koei Tecmo added 1.6%.

Clean energy is becoming another hot theme, with Kawasaki Heavy rising 5.8%, extending gains on its announcement earlier in the week that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Australian miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd FMG.AX to develop a supply chain of “green” hydrogen.

Nippon Kinzoku rose by daily limit of 28% on speculation of surge in demand for its product for injection needles as COVID-19 vaccinations start globally.

Euglena gained 4.4% after the bio-tech firm said it is considering buying health product maker Q’say. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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