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Japanese shares end lower as investors cash in on strong yearly gains

·2-min read

TOKYO, March 2 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks reversed course to close lower on Tuesday, as some investors cashed in on the indexes' sharp rally in the run-up to the fiscal year-end this month.

Investors will close their books as the fiscal year ends on the last day of March and many market participants are looking to book profits from the Nikkei's 87% rally in the past year that propelled it to a more than three-decade high.

The Nikkei 225 Index ended 0.86% lower at 29,408.17, while the broader Topix edged down 0.4% to 1,894.85. Both the benchmark Nikkei and the Topix had gained more than 2% on Monday.

"I don't expect stocks to enter a downtrend, but we have risen so far that it will take at least a month for the markets to consolidate," said Kiyoshi Ishigane, chief fund manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co.

"The Nikkei could move sideways this month because it is right before the end of the fiscal year, but it is possible markets will break out next month."

Among individual shares, Z Holdings Corp fell 4.82%, making it the biggest loser on the Nikkei index even as SoftBank's internet subsidiary outlined plans to invest 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion) in technology over five years.

Ship builder Mitsui E&S Holdings, down 4.09%, was the second-biggest loser on the index, followed by NTT Data, which fell 3.87%.

Sea and air transportation sectors were the biggest losers among the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange. ANA Holdings fell 2.13% and Japan Airlines lost 3.48%.

The largest percentage gainers on the index were Hitachi Zosen Corp, which rose 4.85%, followed by Haseko gaining 3.58 % and Nexon which added 3.12%.

There were 60 advancers on the Nikkei index against 161 decliners. (Reporting by Stanley White and Junko Fujita)