Tokyo stocks end mixed amid fears of economic fallout from virus

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Tokyo stocks ended mixed Thursday as worries about the economic fallout from a surge in coronavirus infections in the capital overshadowed optimism about progress in the development of a vaccine.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 93.80 points, or 0.36 percent, from Wednesday at 25,634.34. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 5.76 points, or 0.33 percent, higher at 1,726.41.

Gainers were led by land transportation and wholesale issues, while steel makers and nonferrous metal issues led decliners.

The U.S. dollar was steady in the upper 103 yen zone throughout the day, as worries about the virus resurgence left market players cautious.

Tokyo on Thursday reported more than 500 new cases, marking a record number of daily infections for the second straight day. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the country is on “maximum alert” following the recent spike in new cases.

“Investors grew cautious as the government may take countermeasures including restrictions on business activities,” said Shingo Ide, chief equity strategist at NLI Research Institute.

But share falls proved moderate, with the Nikkei paring some of its earlier losses and the Topix turning positive toward the close. The downside remained firm after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. said Wednesday that it plans to apply for emergency use authorization in the United States for a potential COVID-19 vaccine “within days.”

“The market was supported by vaccine hopes and views that the economic recovery is still on track,” Ide added.

On the First Section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,238 to 827, while 111 ended unchanged.

Retail issues were mostly lower on concerns over possible requests for shorter business hours, with department store operators J. Front Retailing dropping 11 yen, or 1.3 percent, to 856 yen and Takashimaya down 19 yen, or 2.1 percent, at 869 yen.

Bucking the downward trend, Game maker Nintedo rose 1,180 yen, or 2.2 percent, to 54,420 yen on expectations that a resurgence of the virus would lead to people spending more time at home.

Trading volume on the main section rose to 1,368.24 million shares from Wednesday’s 1,187.06 million shares.

© KYODO

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