Japan stocks end lower after Tokyo goes on highest virus alert

Stanley White | November 18, 2020 01:32 PM

TOKYO,(Reuters) - Japanese stocks fell for a second session on Thursday after Tokyo issued its most severe warning about a record daily cases of the coronavirus that raised concerns about further restrictions on the country’s economic activity.

The Nikkei 225 Index ended down 0.36% at 25,634.34, while the broader Topix recovered from early losses to end 0.33% higher at 1,726.41, lifted by industrial sector shares.

Tokyo’s daily tally of new cases set for a record high of more than 500 while its governor warned of a worse scenario unless action is taken.

Japan’s nationwide tally also hit a record high. But it is the spread of the virus in Tokyo, which hopes to stage a re-scheduled Olympic Games next year, that worries investors the most.

Infections are also rising rapidly in the United States, raising concerns about the economic health of the world’s largest economy.

“Equity prices have risen rapidly, so we are now in a phase where many people are considering taking in profit,” said Masayuki Kichikawa, chief macro strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

“If this were the spring, the Japanese government would already be telling people to stay at home. However, the downside for equities is limited because the decline in economic activity is likely to be less than it was earlier this year.”

The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Astellas Pharma Inc down 2.21%, followed by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc losing 1.52%.

Stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd up 2.65%, followed by Itochu Corp rising 2.28%.

There were 95 advancers in the Nikkei index against 123 decliners. The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 1.09 billion, compared with the average of 1.13 billion in the past 30 days. 

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