• Jiji


The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei average bounced back Thursday to exceed 20,000 for the first time in nearly two months, on the back of heightened expectations for the development of a quick coronavirus treatment.

The average of selected issues on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange surged 422.50 points, or 2.14 percent, to end at 20,193.69 — its first finish above the 20,000 threshold since March 6 — after losing 12.03 points Tuesday. The Tokyo market was closed Wednesday for a national holiday.

The Topix index of all first-section issues rose 14.88 points, or 1.03 percent, to 1,464.03, following a 1.90-point rise the previous trading day.

The Tokyo market spurted from the outset, encouraged by rises in European and U.S. stocks on Wednesday.

Investor sentiment around the world was brightened by Gilead Sciences Inc.’s announcement that hospitalized patients infected with the new coronavirus saw improvement under a five-day treatment course with its antiviral remdesivir in a U.S. clinical trial, brokers said.

Players also took heart from France’s strategy for lifting from May 11 in steps its nationwide lockdown aimed at tackling the deadly virus, they added.

After the initial spurt, the market turned static amid a growing wait-and-see mood, ahead of earnings reports later Thursday by firms including electronic parts makers Nidec and Murata Manufacturing.

“Wednesday’s sharp rise in New York crude oil futures also helped a risk-on mood prevail on the Tokyo market,” said Tomoaki Fujii, head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc.

In addition, investors welcomed the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to maintain its accommodative policy during a two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting through Wednesday as well as January to March business results announced by U.S. technology giants Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp., he noted.

On the first section, winners far outnumbered losers 1,490 to 630 while 51 issues were unchanged. Volume increased to 1.72 billion shares from Tuesday’s 1.23 billion shares.

Chipmaking gear manufacturer Tokyo Electron and technology and entertainment giant Sony went up along with other export-oriented issues.

Oil stocks, including Inpex and JXTG, attracted buying following the New York sweet crude oil market’s sharp recovery.

Among other winners were clothing store chain Fast Retailing and convenience store operator FamilyMart.

On the other hand, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical plunged 8.81 percent after its January to March operating profit failed to beat a market consensus.

Other major losers included cosmetics maker Pola Orbis and daily goods maker Kao.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average rose 250 points to end at 20,060.