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Nikkei slips below 30,000 as rally fizzles before weekend

TOKYO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average slipped on Friday, falling back below the 30,000 mark it has recovered for the first time in three decades earlier this week, as profit-taking ahead of the weekend trumped broad economic recovery optimism.

The Nikkei lost 0.95% to 29,947.42, moving further away from its 30-1/2-year high of 30,714.52 touched on Monday. The broader Topix shed 0.76% to 1,927.21.

“Since the rally had been quite fast, we are having a bit of correction,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities, adding that the Nikkei’s drop was in line with falls in global stocks.

Fast Retailing, which has the highest weighting in the Nikkei, fell 2.7%, reversing early gains as investors took profits from its rise of almost 10% this week.

Strong gains in Fast Retailing and a few other Nikkei heavyweights such as SoftBank Group have boosted the Nikkei more than the broader Topix, lifting the NT ratio to a record 15.60 earlier in the day.

“It’s true that Fast Retailing’s earnings were pretty strong but you could say that’s all priced in, with its extremely high valuations,” said Fumio Matsumoto, chief strategist at Okasan Securities.

Some travel-related shares also slipped after gains earlier this week following the start of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.

ANA Holdings fell 2.7%, while Japan Airlines lost 3.3%. Central Japan Railway lost 2.4%.

Some other cyclical sectors also led the decline, with securities brokerages falling 2% and carmakers losing 1.3%.

But some tech names bucked the trend, with capacitor maker Taiyo Yuden gaining 2.7%.

Toyota Boshoku rose 1.1% after the company said Toyota Motor had sold a portion of its stake in the firm, a move that is intended to increase free-floating shares and enables the firm to be listed in the top-tier segment of the Tokyo bourse in an upcoming board reshuffle in 2022. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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