Business / Financial Markets

Nikkei regains 21,000 mark after Japan lifts virus emergency

Kyodo, reuters

Tokyo stocks rose Tuesday, with the benchmark Nikkei index topping the 21,000 mark for the first time in nearly three months, on hopes for a reboot of economic activity a day after Japan ended a nationwide state of emergency aimed at curbing the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 225-issue Nikkei average ended up 2.55 percent, or 529.52 points, at 21,271.17, while the broader Topix index was up 2.17 percent, or 32.53 points, at 1,534.73 at the close.

Nearly all industrial categories advanced. Air transportation and land transportation were among leading gainers on expectations that people will start traveling more. Real estate issues also rose notably.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar gained ground against the yen on optimism stemming from an increasing number of countries moving to restart social and commercial activities after weeks of lockdowns.

At noon, the U.S. dollar fetched ¥107.86 compared with ¥107.74 in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Monday. Financial markets in the United States were closed due to a national holiday.

The euro was quoted at $1.0912 and ¥117.68 against $1.0876 and ¥117.18 in Tokyo late Monday afternoon.

Tokyo shares extended gains through the morning after opening higher as some businesses requiring close person-to-person interactions in urban areas have been allowed to restart, brokers said.

"Many issues that have been undermined by restrictions on outings are particularly drawing investor attention," said Maki Sawada, vice president of the investment research and investor services department at Nomura Securities Co.

Additionally, investors were heartened by the government's plan to draft a fresh relief package to double the size of its economic measures aimed at cushioning the economy from the impact of the pandemic to over ¥200 trillion ($1.86 trillion), brokers said.

The fresh package, to be funded by a second extra budget planned for fiscal 2020, which began in April, would follow a record ¥117 trillion spending plan deployed last month to cushion the economic blow from the pandemic.

On the first section, advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1,562 to 522, while 84 ended the morning unchanged.

Department store operators also benefited from Japan's economic restart. Marui Group Co. jumped ¥92, or 5.1 percent, to ¥1,885 and J.Front Retailing Co. was up ¥44, or 5.1 percent, at ¥913.

Prime Minister Abe said late Monday that the state of emergency will be lifted for all of Japan, including Tokyo and its surrounding areas, and that the country managed to get the outbreak under control in under two months.

Getting greater Tokyo, which accounts for about one-third of Japan's gross domestic product, back on its feet is vital to the country's overall economic recovery.

The economy slipped into recession in the last quarter, and analysts expect another 22 percent contraction in April-June due to the hit from the health crisis.

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