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Tokyo stocks continued to slide Thursday, as market players refrained from buying amid renewed concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The 225-issue Nikkei average of the Tokyo Stock Exchange plunged 329.40 points, or 1.15%, to close at 28,279.09, widening its loss from Wednesday’s 109.75 points.

The Topix index of all TSE first section issues sank 23.55 points, or 1.20%, to 1,939.61, following a 4.48-point decline the previous day.

Stocks went south from the outset, with sentiment dampened by rekindled concerns over the highly infectious delta variant after daily new coronavirus cases in Tokyo topped 1,000 for the first time in some two months on Wednesday, brokers said.

Automakers and other export-oriented firms, in particular, suffered from the yen’s strengthening against the dollar.

The constant market slide was also attributed to U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures’ downtrend in off-hours trading.

Overall market activity was slow because many players took to the sidelines ahead of the announcement of the business results for September 2020-May 2021 by Fast Retailing, the Nikkei’s biggest component, after the closing bell, brokers noted.

“Amid the coronavirus resurgence and ahead of the quarterly earnings season fully starting later this month, participants had no immediate reasons to buy,” said Chihiro Ota, general manager for investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

“Foreign investors see the virus resurgence threatening the political stability (in Japan),” Hirohumi Yamamoto, strategist at Toyo Securities Co., pointed out.

“Especially since the ruling Liberal Democratic Party fared poorly in the July 4 Tokyo metropolitan assembly election, worries have grown that ballooning public frustration over coronavirus restrictions will erode the power base of the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga,” Yamamoto went on to say.

On the TSE first section, decliners outnumbered gainers 1,839 to 279 while 74 issues were unchanged. Volume shrank to 971 million shares from Wednesday’s 981 million shares.

In the strong yen-hit auto sector, Mazda and Nissan sank particularly deep, by 2.60% and 2.31%, respectively.

Railway operators such as JR Tokai and Keisei were among major victims of the virus fears.

Industrial robot-maker Fanuc and drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo were downbeat as well.

Meanwhile, restaurant chain Saizeriya jumped 5.04% after lifting its earnings projections for the year ending in August.

Other winners included steel-makers JFE and Nippon Steel.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average gave up 320 points to end at 28,220.

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