* Tracking the coronavirus: https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7
* Healthcare sector shines on virus drug development
* Stocks still have downside risks due to coronavirus
By Stanley White
TOKYO, March 5 (Reuters) - Japanese shares rose on Thursday, tracking Wall Street as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's strong showing in primaries and positive U.S. economic data bolstered investor sentiment amid increasing cases of the coronavirus.
The Nikkei index .N225 climbed 1.14% to 21,339.71 by 0142 GMT, with healthcare and industrial stocks leading the advance.
Biden is now leading the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, and his economic policies are considered more benign than his main rivals. sentiment also improved after U.S. data on Wednesday showed strong private sector hiring and robust growth in the services sector. many investors warned that the recent equity sell-off due to the global spread of the coronavirus could quickly return because the flu-like illness has not yet been contained.
The virus emerged in China late last year but has since spread to dozens of countries and caused more than 3,000 deaths.
Infections in Japan have topped 200, with six deaths. That excludes more than 700 cases and five more deaths from the quarantined cruise liner.
There were 166 advancers on the Nikkei index against 51 decliners on Thursday.
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd 4502.T rose 3.67% after the company said it was developing a drug for the virus. This helped other healthcare stocks gain as well. largest percentage gainers in the index were food and drug maker Meiji Holdings Co Ltd 2269.T , up 4.39%, followed by Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd 6305.T , gaining 4.16%, and drug maker Kyowa Kirin Co Ltd 4151.T , up by 3.91%.
Some traders now await the U.S. non-farm payrolls data due on Friday to check the health of the world's largest economy. broader Topix index .TOPX rose 0.95% to 1,516.69.
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board .TOPX was 0.44 billion, compared to the average 1.36 billion in the past 30 days.
(Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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