Japan stocks rise as COVID-19 vaccine trials support growth outlook

TOKYO, July 21 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rose on Tuesday as signs of progress in developing a COVID-19 vaccine boosted investor confidence in the outlook for future economic growth.

The Nikkei index was up 0.60% to 22,854.74 by 0203 GMT, with the healthcare and technology sectors leading the advance.

Initial findings from trials of three potential COVID-19 vaccines have shown encouraging results, raising hopes for a medical solution to a global pandemic that has triggered a sharp recession and caused more than half a million deaths.

There were 63 advancers in the Nikkei index against 157 decliners on Tuesday.

The largest percentage gainers in the index were pharmaceutical firm Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd up 5.09%, followed by silicon wafer maker Sumco Corp gaining 4.61%, and Internet services firm Z Holdings Corp up by 4.59%.

The largest percentage losses in the index were auto maker Isuzu Motors Ltd down 3.83%, followed by Taiheiyo Cement Corp losing 3.66%, and credit card firm Credit Saison Co Ltd down by 3.6%.

Shares of mobile phone network operators NTT Docomo Inc , KDDI Corp, and Softbank Corp dropped following a report that Japan’s government is considering preventing wireless carriers from charging customers fees when they switch providers.

The broader Topix rose 0.06% to 1,577.97.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.53 billion, compared with the average of 1.25 billion in the past 30 days. (Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)