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Tokyo stocks continued to plunge on Wednesday ahead of the government’s imminent declaration of a fresh coronavirus state of emergency in several parts of the country, with the benchmark Nikkei average slipping through the 29,000 threshold for the first time in some four weeks.

The 225-issue Nikkei average plummeted 591.83 points, or 2.03%, to end at 28,508.55, the first closing below 29,000 since March 25. On Tuesday, the key index dived 584.99 points.

The Topix index of all first section issues ended down 38.07 points, or 1.98%, at 1,888.18, after falling 30.31 points the previous day.

Investors rushed to sell from the outset, amid growing expectations that the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga would shortly declare the state of emergency in Tokyo as well as in the prefectures of Osaka and Hyogo.

The third emergency declaration could prevent the Japanese economy from recovering early from the coronavirus crisis, brokers said.

Sentiment was also chilled by a continued sell-off on Wall Street following Washington’s expansion of the list of countries where U.S. citizens are advised not to travel, they noted.

The Nikkei lost 680 points at one point in the early afternoon. But the market showed some resilience and went sideways later amid a dearth of fresh trading incentives.

“Investors are no longer seeing Japan faring better than the United States and European countries in coping with the pandemic, due to chiefly to the country’s much slower vaccine rollout,” said Maki Sawada, strategist at Nomura Securities Co.

The adverse impact of news related to the coronavirus resurgence on the market “was redoubled by a growing wait-and-see mood before the start next week of the full-fledged earnings season,” Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan Inc., noted.

On the TSE first section, decliners swamped gainers 2,028 to 132, while 31 issues were unchanged. Volume rose to 1.262 billion shares from Tuesday’s 1.087 billion shares.

Rakuten plunged 5.55% on a media report that the cybermall operator will be monitored by the Japanese and U.S. governments due to the acquisition of a major stake by China’s Tencent group.

Toshiba extended its losing streak to a fourth session on negative news about British investment fund CVC Capital Partners’ buyout offer.

Department store operators, restaurant chains and other providers of in-person services went south as the state of emergency loomed.

On the other hand, SoftBank Group gained 1.03% thanks to rosier earnings prospects for the year that ended in March.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average dived 600 points to end at 28,540.

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