Business / Financial Markets

Nikkei plunges below 22,000 on U.S. data and Japan earnings

Jiji

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei average nose-dived Friday to end below 22,000 for the first time in a month, as risk aversion intensified amid growing concerns over the negative economic impacts of the raging novel coronavirus.

The Nikkei fell 629.23 points, or 2.82 percent, to end at 21,710.00 after losing 57.88 points Thursday.

The key market gauge finished below 22,000 for the first time since June 29, extending its losing streak to a sixth day. That is the longest bear run since the seven-day decline seen through May 14 last year.

The Topix finished down 43.41 points, or 2.82 percent, at 1,496.06. It shed 9.57 points the previous day.

Stocks extended losses from the early morning, as the safe-haven yen gained against the dollar following Thursday’s release of April to June U.S. gross domestic product data showing a record 32.9 percent GDP drop on an annual basis, brokers said.

An increase in U.S. weekly unemployment insurance claims also fueled concerns over the outlook for the world’s largest economy, while dismal earnings releases from a host of major Japanese companies put another damper on investor sentiment, the brokers said.

The Tokyo market accelerated its downswing in the afternoon, hurt by media reports that record daily coronavirus cases, surpassing 400, had been confirmed in the capital Friday, they said.

“Foreign investors apparently sold Tokyo equities, looking at the yen’s appreciation, disappointing earnings at Japanese firms and the continuing spread of coronavirus infections,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.

Many market sources said that the current high prices on the Tokyo market do not reflect the actual state of the economy, which is mired in a slump amid the virus crisis.

“Considering the current investment environment, you should watch out for another market sell-off this year,” another brokerage official said.

Falling issues overwhelmed rising ones 2,032 to 134 in the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section, while seven issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 1.678 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.300 billion shares.

Semiconductor testing device maker Advantest went limit-down after announcing a worse-than-expected operating profit projection for the year to March 2021.

Electronics maker Panasonic, construction machinery maker Komatsu and precision equipment manufacturer Konica Minolta came under heavy selling due to their disappointing earnings announcements.

Among other losers were clothing store chain Fast Retailing and technology investor SoftBank Group.

On the other hand, electronics maker Fujitsu, electronic parts maker Kyocera and seasoning producer Ajinomoto attracted purchases thanks to their brisk earnings.

Also on the positive side were chipmaking gear manufacturer Tokyo Electron and convenience store chain FamilyMart.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average dived 560 points to end at 21,760.

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