July 16, 2020 / 3:56 AM / 24 days ago

Japanese shares ease off 5-week high on virus fears

TOKYO, July 16 (Reuters) - Japanese shares slipped on Thursday as investors booked profit after sharp gains in the previous session, and worries over rising coronavirus cases dampened hopes for a swift economic recovery.

The benchmark Nikkei shares average fell 0.49% to 22,831.96 by the midday break, retreating from a five-week high hit in the previous session.

Investor sentiment took a hit as Tokyo raised its coronavirus alert to the highest level on Wednesday and infections continued to rise in other parts of Japan, such as Osaka prefecture, which registered its highest number of daily cases since mid-April.

Even robust China data showing the world’s second-largest economy rebounded more than expected in April-June from a record contraction did little to lift market sentiment.

Pharmaceutical, precision machinery and info and telecom were the three worst performers on the main bourse.

Semiconductor issues underperformed, with Screen Holdings Co Ltd dropping 3.8%, while Advantest Corp and Tokyo Electron Ltd eased 3.39% and 3.14%, respectively.

Among gainers, Japan Exchange Group Inc jumped 5.14% after Nikkei Inc said it would add the stock to the Nikkei average from July 29, replacing Sony Financial Holdings Inc .

The broader Topix fell 0.27% to 1,585.27, with almost a third of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange trading lower. (Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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