Business / Financial Markets | TSE DATA & REPORT

Nikkei rebounds for slight gain despite persistent coronavirus fears

JIJI

The benchmark Nikkei average rebounded slightly Wednesday thanks to rises in some heavily weighted component issues, despite persistent concerns over the global spread of the coronavirus.

The 225-issue Nikkei average rose 17.33 points, or 0.08 percent, to end at 21,100.06, in a turnaround from a 261.35-point slump Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Topix index of all first-section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed down 2.62 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,502.50, after giving up 20.75 points the previous day.

In the wake of a sell-off on Wall Street on Tuesday and the yen’s strengthening against the dollar, stocks tumbled at the outset, pushing down the Nikkei by over 200 points within the first few minutes, brokers said.

Concerns over the virus outbreak causing a slowdown in the global economy sent U.S. shares deep into negative territory despite the Federal Reserve’s emergency interest rate cut of 0.50 percentage point, they noted.

The Tokyo market, however, bounced back after the initial dive and returned to the positive side later in the morning on stepped-up buybacks.

The Nikkei’s gain widened by over 160 points in the early afternoon, thanks to the advance of heavily weighted component stocks such as Fast Retailing, brokers said.

Both the Nikkei and Topix indexes fluctuated narrowly in positive territory in most of the afternoon session.

The market’s downside was supported by a halt in the yen’s appreciation against the dollar and a rise in U.S. stock futures in off-hours trading, although coronavirus fears continued to prevent active buying, brokers said.

Some players attributed the morning rebound to speculation that the Bank of Japan would beef up its buying of exchange-traded funds.

Tomoaki Fujii, head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc., said the climb in Dow Jones Industrial Average futures came in response to news reports about brisk performances of centrist candidate Joe Biden in many states on Super Tuesday, a crucial day for U.S. Democrats to pick their presidential nominee.

On the other hand, other sources noted that the Fed’s easing was not enough to get rid of the persistent coronavirus concerns.

Fujii offered the view that the Fed action “rather stoked anxiety” in the market. “Investors took the emergency rate cut as an alarm by the Fed” over the virus increasingly posing a threat to the global economy, he said.

On the TSE’s first section, falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,265 to 802 while 95 issues were unchanged. Volume fell to 1.507 billion shares from Tuesday’s 1.764 billion shares.

Clothing store chain Fast Retailing advanced 1.16 percent on the back of a rise in its same-store sales in February.

Toyobo jumped 1.79 percent, thanks to a news report that the textile-maker is increasing output of its coronavirus test reagent.

Among other major winners were mobile phone carrier KDDI and game-maker Bandai Namco.

On the other hand, financials, such as megabank group Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and insurer Dai-ichi Life, fell prey to the U.S. interest rate reduction.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average rose 150 points to end at 21,130.

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