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Japanese shares drop as tech losses eclipse gains in cyclicals

TOKYO, March 19 (Reuters) - Japanese equities dropped on Friday as heavyweight technology stocks tracked steep overnight declines in U.S. peers after Treasury yields rose, but strong cyclical shares capped falls.

The Nikkei share average fell 0.79% to 29,979.35 by 0140 GMT, while the broader Topix slipped 0.3% to 2002.52, ending an eight-day winning streak.

“Right now, the Japanese market could go any direction depending on the move of bond yields in the United States,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

“It could take a long time for the U.S. bond market to be stabilized as we can expect more economic indicators that would signal a strong recovery.”

Wall Street ended sharply lower on Thursday with the tech-focused Nasdaq tumbling 3%, hit by rising U.S. Treasury yields and fresh worries about the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasuries crossed 1.75% to hit a 14-month high a day after the Fed projected the strongest growth in nearly 40 years.

In Japan, blue-chip technology shares fell, with SoftBank Group dropping 2.1%, Tokyo Electron losing 2.57%, Advantest falling 2.04% and Fanuc slipping 1.45%.

Sea transport and airline sectors advanced. Nippon Yusen jumped 2.54%, Mitsui OSK Lines rose 2.14% and Kawasaki Kisen gained 1.29%.

ANA Holdings rose 1.52% and Japan Airlines gained 0.59%.

Japan’s top three banks gained amid the rising interest rates, with Mizuho Financial adding 1.69%, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial jumping 1.76% and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial gaining 0.76%.

The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were Honda Motor, up 1.96%, followed by Mizuho Financial.

Nintendo Co, down 2.40%, and SoftBank Group were the worst performers among the top 30 core Topix 30 names.

There were 108 advancers on the Nikkei index against 113 decliners. (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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