Business / Financial Markets

Nikkei turns higher as SoftBank and FamilyMart draw buying

Jiji

The benchmark Nikkei stock average turned higher Thursday, backed by the popularity its heavily weighted components SoftBank Group and FamilyMart.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 90.64 points, or 0.40 percent, to end at 22,529.29, after falling 176.04 points Wednesday.

The Topix index of all TSE first-section issues inched up 0.01 point, or zero percent, to close virtually unchanged at 1,557.24 following a 14.48-point drop the previous day.

Active purchases of SoftBank and FamilyMart helped the Nikkei move on the sunny side during the morning session, while the broader Topix index remained in negative terrain amid persistent concerns over another wave of coronavirus infections, brokers said.

Still the Nikkei’s topside was heavy with participants anticipating an increase in selling Friday to gain cash to pay dividends to investors in stock index-linked exchange-traded funds.

In the afternoon, the Tokyo market took in energy from brisk Shanghai stocks. But it cut some of the gains on media reports that coronavirus cases in the capital jumped over 220 on Thursday, the sharpest daily rise ever, brokers noted.

“As stocks resisted falling despite a dearth of buying incentives, some short sellers had to move to cover their positions,” said Tomoaki Fujii, head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc.

The market was also supported by buying ahead of Friday’s special quotation fixing to settle July option contracts and the Bank of Japan’s possible ETF purchases, other market sources said.

On the TSE’s first section, falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,496 to 594 while 81 issues were unchanged. Volume increased to 1.175 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.155 billion shares.

FamilyMart went limit-up in the wake of major trading house Itochu’s announcement of a plan to take full control of the convenience store chain through a tender offer.

SoftBank Group jumped 4.51 percent after SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. revised up its target price for the technology investor.

Among other winners were drug maker Eisai and industrial robot producer Fanuc.

Meanwhile, Shipping firms Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Nippon Yusen and Kawasaki Kisen sank amid the coronavirus resurgence fears.

Retail giant Aeon tumbled after announcing a consolidated operating loss for March-May.

Also shunned were technology firm Kyocera and real estate firm Sumitomo Realty.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average gained 110 points to end at 22,480.

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