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Japanese shares gain on economic rebound hopes, tech shares weigh

TOKYO, March 15 (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose on Monday as optimism around the passage of a massive U.S. stimulus package boosted cyclical shares, although declines in tech stocks weighed on the benchmark.

The Nikkei share average edged up 0.3% to 29,806.41 by 0219 GMT, while the broader Topix rose 0.66% to 1,963.81

“Today’s market in Japan is a reflection of the U.S. market on Friday,” said Shoichi Arisawa, general manager of the investment research department at IwaiCosmo Securities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to its fifth consecutive record high on Friday as the U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval to the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

“Investors are buying cyclical shares that would benefit from a recovery of the U.S. economy, which would be accelerated by the huge economic package that was approved,” Arisawa said.

Japanese transport and materials stocks advanced.

Ship builder Mitsui E&S Holdings surged 7.22%, while shipping firms Kawasaki Kisen and Nippon Yusen rose 3.96% and 4.31%, respectively.

Steel maker JFE Holdings jumped 3.39% and industrial conglomerate Kawasaki Heavy Industries gained 3.96%.

E-commerce firm Rakuten surged 18% after announcing a capital tie-up with postal giant Japan Post Holdings, making it the biggest gainer in the Nikkei. Japan Post gained 1.71%.

Nikkei heavyweight SoftBank Group, down 1.36%, and other tech shares fell, following Nasdaq’s decline on Friday.

Tokyo Electron lost 0.78% and Advantest fell 0.8%.

The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were Honda Motor, which rose 3.42%, followed by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, which gained 3.21%.

The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Nidec, down 1.71%, followed by SoftBank Group. (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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