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Japanese shares extend recovery as investors shrug off GDP data

TOKYO, May 18 (Reuters) - Japanese shares jumped on Tuesday, as the market showed scant reaction to data that signalled the country’s economy had slumped back into decline, while MUFG and Recruit Holdings gained on solid corporate earnings.

Nikkei share average rose 2.98% to 28,402.64, extending its recovery from a four-month low hit last week, while the broader Topix added 1.51% to 1,907.22.

Investors shrugged off the release of gross domestic product (GDP) data that showed Japan’s economy shrank more than expected as a slow vaccine rollout and fresh COVID-19 infections hit spending, raising concerns the country will lag others emerging from the pandemic.

“The market has dropped near its fair value so it has found a bottom for now,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, senior strategist at Mizuho Securities.

Recruit Holdings, the seventh-biggest Japanese company by market capitalisation, jumped 7.5% after the firm gave a strong outlook for the current financial year.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rose 2.2% after the country’s top banking group announced a dividend hike and a stronger-than-expected profit estimate for the current year.

Shares of department stores rose sharply after investors bought them back on expectations that local coronavirus infections would ease soon as the government imposed restrictions and a mass vaccination programme.

J.Front Retailing rose 4.6% while Isetan Mitsukoshi gained 4.4%.

Insurers were another bright spot as elevated U.S. bond yields are seen helping to boost their future investment returns.

T&D Holdings added 7.7% while Dai-ichi Life Holdings rose 4.9%.

Steelmakers, one of the most sensitive sector to global economic cycle, also gained, with Nippon Steel rising 3.4%. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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