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Japan's Nikkei drifts as chip gains offset Uniqlo owner's retreat

By Kevin Buckland

TOKYO, March 26 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average oscillated between small gains and losses on Tuesday, as gains in chip-related stocks offset declines by heavyweights such as Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing and Nissan Motor.

Three of the Nikkei's four biggest supports were in the semiconductor sphere, led by chipmaking-equipment giant Tokyo Electron, as they tracked a record rally in U.S. peer Nvidia.

However, Nissan slumped more than 4% after an update to its medium-term business plan post a market close on Monday that underwhelmed investors.

Fast Retailing sagged 1.5%, continuing its retreat this week from Friday's record high.

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The Nikkei was little changed at 40,422.23 as of 0143 GMT, following Monday's 1.16% drop back from Friday's fresh all-time peak of 41,087.75. Of the index's 225 components, 119 rose, 102 fell and four were flat.

The broader Topix was last up 0.22%, after starting the day lower.

Noting support from the upward-pointing five-day moving average at around 40,530, "I think it would be quite difficult for the Nikkei to turn lower," said Kazuo Kamitani, an equity strategist at Nomura Securities.

However, while any declines are likely to be small, gains are also unlikely to exceed about 100 points this session, in a market with no strong sense of direction or fresh trading cues, Kamitani added.

Tokyo Electron rose 0.46% and was the biggest gainer by index points due to its heavy weighting. Silicon producer Shin-Etsu Chemical was no. 2, advancing 1.48%.

Screen Holdings, another chipmaking-equipment manufacturer, was no. 4, rising more than 3%.

Nvidia, the company at the centre of the artificial intelligence fervour, notched a second successive all-time closing high on Monday, after extending its winning run to a sixth straight session. (Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)