The 225-issue Nikkei average fell for the third consecutive day Friday, as concerns about a third wave of coronavirus infections weighed heavily on market sentiment.
The Nikkei average dropped 106.97 points, or 0.42%, to close at 25,527.37, after sliding 93.80 points Thursday.
The Topic index of all Tokyo Stock Exchange first-section issues finished nearly unchanged, inching up 0.98 point, or 0.06%, to 1,727.39, following a 5.76-point rise the previous day.
Stocks came under pressure after a curfew was issued in California to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Reports of record numbers of coronavirus cases in several prefectures also pulled stocks down.
There was position-squaring selling ahead of the national three-day weekend, but stocks were also supported by buying on dips, brokers said.
Brokers said that the recent spike in infections across Japan will “make stocks sensitive to coronavirus news,” such as what policies prefectural governors will take to fight the epidemic.
Despite the worries, many investors believe that governments will not impose measures on the scale of those adopted in the spring, leaving the global economy relatively unscathed, said Hirohumi Yamamoto, strategist at Toyo Securities Co.
Market players also remain optimistic about the long-term economic outlook after the deployment of a coronavirus vaccine and thus are not engaging in a sell-off, Yamamoto added.
Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan Inc., said that many stocks have started or are starting to rebound from the downside correction that began earlier this week, noting that there were more gainers than decliners on the TSE first section.
The falling stocks reflect high-priced stocks that are especially sensitive to the coronavirus epidemic, such as transport names, said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co.
On the TSE’s first section, rising stocks outnumbered falling ones 1,296 to 788, with 93 issues unchanged. Volume declined to 1.088 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.368 billion shares.
Transport issues such as Central Japan Railway, or JR Tokai, fell as infection cases continued to rise.
Insurers took a beating as well. MS&AD plunged 4.38% and T&D tumbled 3.55%.
Pharmaceutical firms such as Chugai and Daiichi Sankyo also attracted selling.
On the other hand, steel-makers gained ground. JFE rose 2.01% and Nippon Steel climbed 2.87%.
Other winners included technology investor SoftBank Group, which rose 2.62%.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average finished unchanged at 25,540.
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