Tokyo stocks fell back in lackluster trading Thursday, as investor concerns over the coronavirus resurgence in Japan grew.
The 225-issue Nikkei average shed 21.81points, or 0.07%, to close at 29,708.98, following a 34.16-point gain Wednesday.
The Topix index of all first section issues finished 15.57 points, or 0.79%, lower at 1,951.86, after advancing 13.09 points the previous day.
Stocks, particularly economically sensitive cyclicals, met with selling from the outset amid spreading concerns over sharp increases in the number of coronavirus cases in various parts of Japan and waning hopes for the country’s economic recovery. The Nikkei gave up over 200 points at one point in early morning trading.
The overall market remained under pandemic-induced selling pressure throughout the session.
But the Nikkei alone gradually regained lost ground in the afternoon and briefly returned to the sunny side toward the closing, thanks to buybacks of the key index’s heavyweight components, such as clothing store chain Fast Retailing and medical information provider M3.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s remarks clarifying a plan to request the central government to designate the capital to implement quasi-emergency measures following Osaka and some other prefectures “heightened investor fears over the spread of coronavirus variants in the country,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co.
The market was also weighed down by selling to take profit on recent rallies and a fall in U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures in off-hours trading, other market sources pointed out.
On the TSE first section, decliners overwhelmed gainers 1,883 to 285 while 22 issues were unchanged. Volume decreased to 1.134 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.083 billion shares.
Airlines JAL and ANA, department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi, and railway operator JR East were among cyclicals getting hurt by the virus spike concerns.
Cram school operator Riso Kyoiku dived 9.07%, as the firm’s operating profit forecast for the year ending in February 2022 failed to beat a market consensus.
Other major losers included drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo and electronics and plant giant Toshiba.
Meanwhile, Nintendo rose for the sixth consecutive day, helped by strong sales of the Monster Hunter Rise game for its Switch console.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average dropped 40 points to end at 29,670.
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