Nikkei pares big early loss as Japan shares swing on Ukraine twists

TOKYO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The Nikkei index pared big early losses but was still markedly lower by the midday break on Monday, as investors took a degree of comfort from news of a potential summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The Nikkei share average (.N225) ended the morning down 0.72% at 26,926.01 after losing as much as 2.11%. More than three times as many stocks fell as rose.

The benchmark index is down for a third straight day, retreating from the psychologically important 27,000-level.

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The broader Topix (.TOPX) sank 0.66% to 1,911.58, but was earlier off 1.83%. Growth stocks suffered bigger declines, with an index of the shares (.TOPXG) falling 0.87% compared to a 0.47% slide for value shares (.TOPXV).

Biden and Putin have agreed in principle to a summit over Ukraine, U.S. and French leaders said, following a week of heightened tensions spurred by Russia's military buildup all around the Ukrainian border. read more

"Continuing on from last week, the market is being swung by the latest Ukraine headlines," said a market participant at a domestic securities firm. "At the same time, any sense that Japanese stocks are expensive has evaporated, so it's also a chance for dip buying."

Chipmakers declined, with Tokyo Electron's (8035.T) 2.83% slide enough to make it the Nikkei's biggest drag by index points. Advantest lost 1.99% and Renesas (6723.T) slipped 1.76%.

Sony Group (6758.T) and Nintendo (7974.T) each slid 1.16%.

Sharp Corp (6753.T) tumbled 9.97% after the company announced it replaced its chief executive.

Shippers fell back after hitting a nearly five-month peak at the end of last week (.ISHIP.T). Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (9107.T) dropped 5.38% and Mitsui OSK Lines (9104.T) shed 3.83%.

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Reporting by Tokyo markets team; editing by Uttaresh.V

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