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Nikkei dips on Delta variant anxiety, Toyota slips after earnings

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TOKYO, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Japanese shares dipped on Wednesday as concerns about the rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant kept investors on edge, while Toyota Motor succumbed to profit-taking after upbeat earnings.

The Nikkei share average dipped 0.21% to 27,584.08, while the broader Topix fell 0.50% to 1,921.43.

Concerns about surging COVID-19 cases are mounting as the head of the Japan Medical Association called for a nationwide state of emergency.

Toyota Motor gave up 0.9% after the automaker reported a record quarterly operating profit but maintained its annual guidance.

Toyota, which has gained more than 25% so far this year, followed other Japanese companies that fell even after reporting strong earnings as investors already had high expectations.

"It's not that there is huge selling. But no one is buying. Even when a company announces strong earnings, that certainly pleases its existing investors but there's no additional buyers," said Takenori Yamamoto, a portfolio manager at Norinchukin Zenkyoren Asset.

He expects more buying late in August when the government will likely focus on an economic stimulus ahead of an election that must be held by November.

But upbeat earnings did boost some other firms.

Nippon Steel gained 3.1% after the country's top steelmaker bumped up its net profit estimate for the current year by more than 50%, well above analysts' forecasts.

Nippon Yusen jumped 5.5% after the shipper recorded a bumper quarterly profit and boosted its annual guidance.

Daikin rose 6.1% after the manufacturer of air-conditioners posted stronger-than-expected profit growth.

Z Holdings gained 9.8% after the internet service firm reported brisk growth in quarterly profit.

On the other hand, Nichirei Corp dropped 12.3% after the frozen food product firm, which had benefited from the pandemic-led demand boost, reported surprisingly weak quarterly profits.

Game companies continued to feel the pinch after a Chinese state media article described online games as "spiritual opium".

Koei Tecmo lost 3.1%, while Nexon fell 1.0%. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; editing by Uttaresh.V and Subhranshu Sahu)

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