Japanese shares retreat from 3-week high; drugmakers limit losses

TOKYO, May 31 (Reuters) - Japanese shares fell on Monday, as investors locked in profit after recent gains in the markets, though local drugmakers advanced as the world’s third-largest economy saw steady progress with its COVID-19 vaccination drive.

The Nikkei share average was down 0.73% at 28,36.51, as of 0229 GMT, while the broader Topix lost 0.63% to 1,935,21.

The Nikkei jumped 2.1% on Friday to close the 29,000 level for the first time since May 10, while Wall Street finished with marginal gains as investors brushed off a stronger-than-expected inflation reading.

“Shares rose sharply on Friday, but gains in the U.S. markets were limited, which is the reason for the sell-off today,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.

“There aren’t any reasons to buy Japanese stocks at the moment except that the vaccine rollouts are proceeding well. That is helping cap the declines in the session.”

Index heavyweights Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group dragged the Nikkei lower, after slipping 1.12% and 0.73%, respectively.

Renesas Electronics Corp sank 5.94% after the chipmaker announced a sale of about $2 billion shares to help it fund its planned $6 billion purchase of Dialog Semiconductor .

Drugmakers advanced, with the two leading percentage gainers in the Nikkei - Astellas Pharma jumping 3.69% and Chugai Pharmaceutical climbing 1.75%. Daiichi Sankyo rose 1.09%.

Japan started its inoculation drive in mid-February, later than most major economies, and has been racing to vaccinate most of its elderly population before the start of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23.

The largest percentage losers in the index were NTN Corp , down 4.33 %, followed by Credit Saison losing 3.79% and Fukuoka Financial Group down 3.57%. (Reportingi by Junko Fujita, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)