Tokyo stocks turned lower Monday, as the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus cast a pall over the market.
The 225-issue Nikkei average fell 185.09 points, or 0.64%, to close at 28,598.19, after climbing 76.24 points Friday.
The Topix index of all Tokyo Stock Exchange first-section issues ended down 7.32 points, or 0.37%, at 1,948.99, following a 17.10-point rise the previous trading day.
Stocks came under strong selling pressure from the outset, as investor caution grew over a continued rise in new coronavirus cases in Japan caused by the delta variant’s spread, brokers said.
Coronavirus vaccine supply bottlenecks in the country also dampened sentiment.
But after the early morning plunge, stocks resisted falling further, thanks to buying spurred by all three major U.S. market indexes renewing their record closing highs on Friday.
Trading was slow due to participation by fewer foreign investors during the three-day Independence Day weekend in the United States, brokers noted.
“Investors waiting for the start of the earnings season (later this week) were sitting on the fence,” said Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan Inc.
The Nikkei suffered a larger fall than the Topix because heavily weighted components of the benchmark index met with active selling, Otani pointed out.
Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co., noted that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s disappointing performance in Sunday’s Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election raised concerns about the stability of the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, also president of the LDP, especially ahead of a general election to be held by autumn.
On the TSE first section, decliners outnumbered gainers 1,346 to 749, while 97 issues were unchanged. Volume dropped to 774 million shares from Friday’s 904 million shares.
SoftBank Group, a Nikkei heavyweight, tumbled 5.39% after Chinese ride-hailing service firm Didi Global Inc., one of its large investment targets, saw its app barred from online stores by Chinese authorities.
Drugmaker Eisai extended its losing streak to an eighth session amid controversy over its Alzheimer’s disease medicine approved in the United States.
Other losers included steelmakers JFE and Nippon Steel.
On the other hand, semiconductor-related issues such as Screen and Taiyo Yuden benefited from their U.S. peers’ advance on Friday.
Job information provider Recruit Holdings and airline ANA attracted buying.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average slumped 190 points to end at 28,570.
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