Business / Financial Markets

Tokyo stocks rise further despite fears over U.S.-China tensions

Jiji

Tokyo stocks rose further on Monday, reflecting a climb on Wall Street late last week and expectations for a recovery in the U.S. economy despite concerns over an escalation in U.S.-China tensions.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange gained 96.26 points, or 0.48 percent, to end at 20,133.73. On Friday, the key index went up 122.69 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues closed up 5.52 points, or 0.38 percent, at 1,459.29, after advancing 7.22 points the previous trading day.

Reassured by further gains in all three major U.S. stock price gauges, including the Dow Jones industrial average, on Friday, the Tokyo market opened higher.

Investor sentiment was also brightened by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's suggestion in a television interview on Sunday that the U.S. economy will likely recover from the slowdown caused by the spread of the new coronavirus, in the second half of this year, brokers said.

Market players, however, moved to sell mainly semiconductor-related issues later, pushing the Nikkei below 20,000 at one point.

The bout of selling came in response to concerns over strife between the United States and China ignited by the U.S. government's move to tighten export controls on Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co., brokers said.

Supported by a stable dollar-yen rate and a rise in the Dow futures in off-hours trading, both indexes recouped losses and fluctuated on the positive side for the rest of the day.

Brokers also noted that investor sentiment was helped by Japan's gross domestic product data for January-March, which beat the market consensus.

"The market throughout the day was also supported by hopes for a restart in economic activities in Japan," Maki Sawada, vice president of Nomura Securities Co.'s Investment Research & Investor Services Department, said. Sawada specifically pointed to data showing that official coronavirus infections fell to just five in Tokyo and zero in Osaka on Sunday.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,251 to 844 in the first section, while 76 issues were unchanged. Volume dropped slightly to 1.210 billion shares from Friday's 1.293 billion shares.

Oil names, including Inpex and JXTG, attracted buying, thanks to higher crude oil prices.

SoftBank Group rose 1.03 percent, after the technology investor announced a plan to buy back own shares.

Also bought were medical information services provider M3 and Nissan Chemical.

On the other hand, semiconductor-related issues and China-linked stocks came under selling, reflecting heightened fears over the U.S.-China tensions, with Tokyo Electron falling 3.66 percent and Murata Manufacturing 3.10 percent.

Also on the negative side were apparel maker Sanyo Shokai and drug maker Shionogi.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average climbed 170 points to end at 20,210.

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