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Nikkei slips on profit-taking in growth stocks ahead of US jobs data

TOKYO: Japanese shares slipped on Friday as investors took profits, mostly on growth shares, ahead of a key US jobs report that could intensify worries about inflation and tapering in the Federal Reserve’s stimulus.

The Nikkei average lost 0.49% to 28,916.89 after two days of gains, while the broader Topix lost 0.21% to 1,954.57, snapping its three-day winning streak.

Growth shares dragged, with a fall of 0.46%, while value shares were almost flat.

Investors sold tech shares and stay-at-home winners as a strong reading in US jobs report could fan expectations the Fed could taper its stimulus sooner than expected, thus withdrawing a support from richly-valued shares.

SoftBank Group, whose Vision Fund owns global tech firm shares, lost 1.4%.

Industrial robot makers posted sizable losses, with Fanuc losing 2.5% and Yaskawa Electric dropping 1.7%.

Some of last year’s star performers crumbled. Medical support service operator M3 shed 4.1% while bicycle maker Shimano shed 1.9%.

Still the market was fairly supported overall, as acceleration of Japan’s vaccination programme took out one major obstacle for the market.

Many railway companies gained, with West Japan Railway up 1.0% and Central Japan Railway gaining 0.9%.

“Japan’s slow vaccination had been a reason to sell Japanese stocks. But now about one in ten people have got at least one shot, which is much better than just one percent about a month ago, even though the number is still far below those in many other developed countries,” said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Securities.

Investors were also scooping up large traditional Japanese companies, including Toyota Motor, which gained 1% to a record high, having risen 10 of the last 11 sessions.

Hitachi added 1.8% to hit a 20-year high while Mitsubishi Chemical rose 2.2% to a two-year high.

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