Tokyo stocks erased earlier gains to close lower Friday, beaten by the news that the U.S. president contracted the novel coronavirus.
The 225-issue Nikkei average of the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished at 23,029.90, down 155.22 points, or 0.67 percent, from Wednesday, when the key index gave up 353.98 points. Cash stock transactions were entirely suspended Thursday due to a system glitch at the TSE.
The Topix index of all TSE first section issues closed down 16.27 points, or 1.00 percent, at 1,609.22, following a 32.61-point fall in the previous active session.
Stocks got off to a robust start despite the full-day market shutdown the day before. Investor appetite was stimulated by rises in all three major U.S. stock price gauges including the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday, brokers said. The market spurt pushed up the Nikkei by some 180 points.
After the initial buying spree, participants came to sit on the fence to wait for the U.S. Labor Department’s jobs report for September, preventing stocks from going further north, brokers noted.
In the late afternoon, the market’s quietness was broken by media reports that U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, tested positive for the virus and are quarantining themselves. The surprising news was followed by the Nikkei’s temporary tumble through the 23,000 threshold.
“Trump’s tweet revealing the couple’s coronavirus infections triggered risk-averse selling because it made the U.S. political situations including the presidential race murkier,” an asset manager said.
“The market was also weighed down by a drop in Dow futures in off-hours trading,” said Maki Sawada, vice president of Nomura Securities Co.’s Investment Research & Investor Services Department.
Thursday’s system trouble had no lingering effects, an official at a major securities firm pointed out.
On the TSE first section, volume increased slightly to 1.484 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.442 billion shares. The TSE could not make available how many issues rose, drop or remained unchanged from Thursday.
Drugmakers, including Daiichi Sankyo Co. and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., succumbed to strong selling pressure stemming from weak performances of their U.S. peers Thursday.
Electronics maker Fujitsu, the supplier of the TSE’s trading platform, lost 2.75 pct.
Among other major losers were technology and entertainment giant Sony Corp. and job information provider Recruit Holdings Co.
On the other hand, Tokyo Electron and other stocks in the semiconductor sector rose in the wake of a surge in the SOX Philadelphia semiconductor index Thursday.
Marui Group Co. scaled 1.44 percent amid growing earnings improvement hopes following media reports that it will close Marui department stores in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district and in the city of Shizuoka next year.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average fell 330 points from Thursday to end at 22,980. The exchange was unaffected by the TSE system failure.
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