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Japan shares gain on vaccine progress, Topix hits over 6-week high

TOKYO, June 3 (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose on Thursday, with broad Topix index hitting a more than six-week high, as a pickup in the country’s vaccination drive raised hopes of the economy recovering from the shackles of the pandemic.

Nikkei share average rose 0.35% to 29,048.28, facing an immediate resistance from its 75-day moving average at 29,225.

The broader Topix rose 0.81% to 1,958.00, hitting its highest level since April 19.

“Vaccinations are moving much faster than expected, boosting hopes of reopenings,” said Hiroyuki Ueno, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.

The number of people who have had at least one shot has topped 10 million, Japanese media reported. The government aims to finish vaccinating most elderly citizens by the end of July.

Railway companies rose in heavy trade for a second day in a row, with East Japan Railway jumping 2.6% and Central Japan Railway adding 1.8%.

Automakers also saw heavy demand on global recovery hopes.

Toyota Motor gained 2.5% while Honda Motor rose 2.2% and Nissan Motor picked up 1.5%.

Food company Ajinomoto vaulted 3.9% to a five-year high as it extended its bull runs since its latest earnings and share buyback announcement last month.

Beer and beverage maker Kirin Holdings rose 2.6%.

On the other hand, Fast Retailing lost 4.6% after the operator of Uniqlo casual clothing change said its domestic sales declined 0.6% in May from a year a earlier, the first fall in a year.

The sizable drop in Fast Retailing, which has the biggest weight in the Nikkei, curbed the Nikkei’s gains compared to Topix.

Elsewhere, some of this year’s biggest gainers also dropped on profit-taking, with shippers subindex down 1.9% and steelmakers falling 0.3%. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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