By Stanley White
TOKYO, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks ended higher on Wednesday as investors bet the healthcare sector would continue to benefit from a prolonged battle with the coronavirus, while technology shares rose on signs that Apple was eying an entry into electric cars.
Pharmaceuticals .IPHAM.T rose 0.9% on hopes for better earnings after Mizuho Securities raised its price target for Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd 4568.T and as the spread of a more contagious COVID-19 strain in Britain sparked expectations of longer battle with virus.
The healthcare sector has benefited from the pandemic due to increased demand for treatments, although the virus outbreak's broader impact on the global economy has kept investors on edge.
"People are buying (those) stocks on dips that they expect to lead growth as they try to anticipate what will happen next year," a dealer at a domestic broker said.
Electronic parts makers .IELEC.T and information and communications stocks .ICOMS.T rose 0.8% and 0.03%, respectively, tracking a record close for the Nasdaq .IXIC on signs that Apple Inc AAPL.O was moving ahead with the production of electric vehicles. gainers among the top 30 core Topix names were Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd 4568.T and Keyence Corp 6861.T , rising 2.9% and 1.9%, respectively.
However, financials fell, showing lingering caution.
Japanese automakers took a hit after a local media report that the government would set a goal of banning new sales of gasoline-powered cars by the mid 2030s.
There were 80 advancers on the Nikkei index against 141 decliners.
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board .TOPX was 0.89 billion, compared to the average of 1.33 billion in the past 30 days.
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