Business / Financial Markets

Tokyo stocks rebound sharply on hopes for early U.S. reopening

Jiji

Tokyo stocks turned sharply higher Friday amid growing hopes for an early reopening of the U.S. economy after its lockdown to stop the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange rocketed 607.06 points, or 3.15 percent, to end at 19,897.26, the highest finish since March 6. On Thursday, the key market gauge tumbled 259.89 points.

The TOPIX index of all TSE first-section issues closed up 20.30 points, or 1.43 percent, at 1,442.54, after losing 11.83 points the previous day.

Buying far outpaced selling from the outset, as U.S. index futures shot up in off-hours trading following U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement of new guidelines to reopen the world's largest economy in three phases, brokers said.

Sentiment was also brightened by media reports that coronavirus patients taking an experimental drug made by a U.S. firm have rapidly recovered in a clinical trial in the United States, they noted.

The Nikkei's rally was also contributed by jumps in semiconductor-sector stocks in the wake of major chip foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.'s release of strong earnings numbers on Thursday.

Despite the quickly grown risk-off mood in the market, however, Tomoaki Fujii, head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc., offered the view that it is too early to believe that the rally will continue.

"Optimism cannot be warranted" that U.S. economic activities will go back to normal in the near future, he said, pointing out that the New York state extended on Thursday its strict lockdown measures at least until mid-May although coronavirus hospitalization and death numbers in the state started showing signs of decline.

The market reacted only a little to China's announcement of a 6.8 percent drop in its gross domestic product in January-March, because such a big economic contraction had widely been expected, another analyst said.

An official at a major brokerage firm said that taken as a whole the market was not as strong as the Nikkei.

On the TSE's first section, winners outnumbered losers 1,063 to 1,034 while 71 issues were unchanged. Volume increased to 1.40 billion shares from Thursday's 1.29 billion shares.

Export-oriented issues, such as automaker Toyota and technology and entertainment giant Sony, particularly benefited from Trump's reopening plan.

Nitori rose after Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. revised up its target price for the furniture retailer.

Clothing store chain Fast Retailing and technology investor Softbank Group also attracted buying.

On the other hand, game maker Nintendo snapped its three-day winning streak induced by increasing "nesting" demand following stay-at-home requests by authorities.

Railway operator Nishi-Nippon Railroad, better known as Nishitetsu, fell on its profit warning for the year that ended in March.

Also on the negative side were drug maker Chugai and Parcel delivery firm Yamato Holdings.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average rose 460 points to end at 19,700.

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