Financial Markets

Nikkei retakes 20,000 as hopes build for lifting of virus restrictions

Jiji

The benchmark Nikkei stock average jumped to retake 20,000 on Friday, supported by hopes for an easing of coronavirus-induced restrictions on business activity in and outside Japan.

The Nikkei average of 225 major issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section surged 504.32 points, or 2.56 percent, to end at 20,179.09, its first finish above 20,000 since April 30. On Thursday, the key market gauge advanced 55.42 points.

The Topix index of all TSE first-section issues jumped 31.55 points, or 2.21 percent, to 1,458.28 after dropping 4.53 points the previous day.

The Nikkei average retook the psychologically important line early in the morning, jacked up by an overnight rise in U.S. equities on growing expectations for a relaxation of lockdowns in the country.

Active buying related to Friday’s special quotation fixing to settle May options contracts also contributed to the early firmness, brokers said.

The Tokyo market maintained its strength in the afternoon, backed by a rise in U.S. index futures in off-hours trading, they said.

Investors also took heart from media reports that top U.S. and Chinese trade representatives agreed in telephone talks to strengthen cooperation on economic and public health issues.

The Japanese government soon plans to release criteria for lifting the state of emergency for COVID-19 that was declared in April.

“Hopes spread for an early restart of economic activities in Japan, and risk appetite grew with investors looking ahead into the future,” said Hirohumi Yamamoto, strategist at Toyo Securities Co.

Market attention is focused on the U.S. government’s jobs report for April, due out later Friday.

“As bad results are expected, investors stepped up buying (in Tokyo), believing that the U.S. market would not react negatively to the jobs data,” Yamamoto said.

Rising issues overwhelmed falling ones 1,835 to 287 in the TSE’s first section, while 49 issues were unchanged.

Volume edged up to 1.372 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.351 billion shares.

Automaker Toyota, technology giant Sony and other export-oriented issues attracted purchases.

Financials such as mega-bank Mitsubishi UFJ and insurer Dai-ichi Life rose after their U.S. peers fared well overnight.

Sushi chains Kura Sushi and Sushiro Global and other restaurant operators gained ground as hopes rose that the state of emergency will be lifted soon.

Among other winners were clothing chain operator Fast Retailing and technology investor SoftBank Group.

By contrast, Nintendo plunged after announcing a worse-than-expected projection for operating profit for the year to March 2021.

Also on the negative side were cosmetics giant Shiseido and pharmaceuticals maker Chugai.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average jumped 440 points to end at 20,140.

Coronavirus banner