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Japanese shares rise as Tokyo lowers virus alert, U.S. futures gain

TOKYO, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Japanese shares inched higher on Friday, tracking strength in U.S. stock futures and as the capital city of Tokyo dropped its coronavirus alert by one notch from the highest level as COVID-19 cases continue to trend down.

The benchmark Nikkei share average was up 0.31% at 23,308.47 by midday break, with 145 advancers against 70 decliners. For the week, the index has gained 0.41%.

The broader Topix gained 0.53% to 1,633.45, with all but five of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange trading higher. The index is set for its third weekly gain.

Tokyo had raised the alert to “red” in July on the advice of experts following a rise in infections. The city’s daily cases have gradually declined since hitting a peak of 472 cases in early August, with 276 new cases reported on Thursday.

Japanese stocks were lifted on Friday by gains in U.S. futures in Asian trade, with e-mini futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures rising more than 0.6% each.

The market initially opened softer, tracking overnight losses in Wall Street, as heavyweight U.S. tech stocks resumed their decline following a sharp rebound on Wednesday.

Shippers, precision machineries and pharmaceuticals were the three top performers on the main bourse.

Market participants said active buying on special quotation fixing to settle September Nikkei futures and options also contributed to the rebound into positive territory.

The closely watched settlement price, known in Japan as the special quotation, or “SQ,” is calculated from the opening prices of the 225 shares in the Nikkei share average on the second Friday of the month.

Tokyo Dome Corp slipped 2.27% after the company forecasts a net loss of 18 billion yen ($169.56 million) for the year through Jan. 31, 2021.

($1 = 106.1600 yen)

Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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