The key 225-issue Nikkei average fell back Friday as negative news regarding a coronavirus vaccine dampened market sentiment.
The benchmark Nikkei of the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 58.13 points, or 0.22%, to close at 26,751.24, after rising 8.39 points on Thursday.
But the Topix index of all TSE first section issues rose 0.69 point, or 0.04%, to end at 1,775.94, following a 1.28-point gain the previous day.
The market got off to a weak start after a media report that U.S. drug giant Pfizer Inc. will only be able to deliver half of the planned supply of its coronavirus vaccine within this year.
The weakness was compounded by the firming of the yen against the dollar in overnight trading abroad.
Still, Tokyo stocks were underpinned by buying on dips on the back of belief that concerns over the vaccine will not affect the expected economic recovery in the long term, brokers said.
Despite the firm underside, the Nikkei stayed in negative territory as market players refrained from active buying ahead of the weekend.
Hirohumi Yamamoto, strategist at Toyo Securities Co., said that the news about Pfizer’s vaccine supply was merely a trigger that prompted investors to sell due to a variety of factors, including a wait-and-see mood ahead of a European Central Bank meeting Thursday.
“As ECB President Christine Lagarde has committed to additional monetary policy steps to tackle the coronavirus crisis, speculators are focusing on how large the measures will be,” Yamamoto said.
Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co., noted that the market movements Friday were distinct from those in previous trading sessions that followed negative news about coronavirus vaccines, because high-tech stocks, which are not as impacted by the pandemic and have tended to rise in such sessions, also met with strong selling.
In the TSE’s first section, falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,116 to 969 with 93 issues unchanged. Volume shrank to 1.147 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.233 billion shares.
ANA sank 2.49% as the news on Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine cast a cloud over hopes for a swift recovery of the airline industry.
Major Nikkei components such as Fast Retailing, SoftBank Group and Tokyo Electron succumbed to selling as investors regarded the issues as overinflated in the bull run that began in early November.
Tech names including medical information provider M3 and internet advertising firm CyberAgent came under selling pressure.
Other major losers included Rakuten, which closed down 7.31% after mobile carrier NTT Docomo unveiled a low-cost smartphone plan that will compete with the service of the cybermall operator’s mobile phone unit.
On the other hand, auto parts supplier Denso jumped 7.76%, with investors pinning their hopes on the company’s electric vehicle parts business.
Steelmakers Nippon Steel and JFE also attracted buying.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average fell 70 points to end at 26,780.
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