The Nikkei stock average continued to bleed Thursday as fears of a coronavirus resurgence at home and abroad dampened investor sentiment.
The 225-issue Nikkei average of the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 93.80 points, or 0.36%, to close at 25,634.34, after sliding 286.48 points Wednesday.
But the Topix index of all TSE first section issues rose 5.76 points, or 0.33%, to end at 1,726.41, following a 14.01-point drop the previous day.
Concerns about rapidly rising coronavirus cases overshadowed positive news from Pfizer Inc., which said it will ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine.
Another negative factor was that Tokyo raised its coronavirus alert to the highest level on its four-point scale.
However, the Topix index rose back into positive territory and the Nikkei average cut losses in late trading, as investors saw that stocks had bottomed out.
Kazuo Kamitani, senior associate at Nomura Securities Co.'s Investment Research & Investor Services Department, said that trading volume on the TSE's first section was beginning to fall back to levels before the recent bull run.
This suggests a decline in market optimism, driving players to the sidelines, Kamitani said.
Meanwhile, Hirohumi Yamamoto, strategist at Toyo Securities Co., said that the Nikkei is not seeing a sharp plunge as Japanese stocks are still underpinned by long-term hopes for economic recovery reflected in companies' positive July-September earnings.
In addition, stocks are still undervalued based on price-to-book ratios, so investors are willing to buy when they turn lower, Yamamoto said.
On the TSE's first section, decliners outnumbered gainers 1,238 to 827 with 111 issues unchanged. Volume increased to 1.368 billion shares from Wednesday's 1.187 billion shares.
Chipmaking equipment-maker Tokyo Electron sank 1.76% and semiconductor test device-maker Advantest fell 2.76%.
Concerns over the possibility of another round of travel restrictions amid a coronavirus resurgence pulled down transport names such as Central Japan Railway, or JR Tokai, and ANA.
Automakers suffered from the yen's rise against the dollar.
Stocks heavily weighted on the Nikkei index, such as Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group, also declined.
Meanwhile, Toray, which supplies parts to Boeing, rose 2.24% after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cleared the Boeing 737 MAX to fly again.
Other winners included Z Holdings, the parent of internet service provider Yahoo Japan, and internet advertising firm CyberAgent.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average fell 160 points to end at 25,540.
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