Fri, 14 May 2021

TOKYO, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks closed lower Monday amid concerns over the outlook for Japan's economy as COVID-19 cases continued to rise with more prefectures added to those where more stringent anti-viral measures have been put in place.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average dropped 229.33 points, or 0.77 percent, from Friday to close the day at 29,538.73.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, lost 4.88 points, or 0.25 percent, lower at 1,954.59.

After opening mixed, Tokyo stocks retreated into negative territory and extended losses throughout the day as investors grew ever-concerned that rising COVID-19 cases in the country could lead to increased public and business restrictions, local brokers said.

They ventured that just weeks after a second state of emergency expired nationwide, with the Greater Tokyo region last on the list to run its course, COVID-19 figures have bounced back unabated, with some members of the public disgruntled that Japan is so far behind other developed countries when it comes down to vaccine rollouts.

"Investors disliked the fact that Japan is extremely behind in terms of COVID-19 vaccinations among advanced countries," Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co., was quoted as saying.

"The timing of business activities returning to normal would be delayed," Ichikawa said.

On Monday the Japanese government started inoculating people aged 65 or over.

Overall, more than 99 percent of the population has yet to receive a shot about two months after the start of the vaccination campaign, market strategists pointed out.

Only 1.1 percent of Japan's population of 126 million has received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, with 36 million elderly people now waiting for the jabs.

With the delay in Japan's vaccination program, concerns are mounting on multiple fronts as to the negative effects, none more so than there being just a little over three months until the already postponed start of the Summer Olympics to be hosted by Tokyo.

Market analysts questioned the effectiveness of the government's quasi-measures to tackle the COVID-19 climb by introducing earlier closing times for bars and restaurants for other prefectures including Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa, with spectators at large events being capped at 5,000.

The purportedly stricter measures will be in place until May 5 for Kyoto and Okinawa, and May 11 for Tokyo and will cover the highly popular Golden Week holidays, usually a boon for traveling and the tourist industry.

By the close of play, marine transportation, nonferrous metal and consumer credit issues comprised those that declined the most.

Robotics maker Yaskawa Electric, a barometer of manufacturers' earnings, dropped 7.1 percent after its February quarter earnings missed median market expectations.

"Many firms may report better-than-expected earnings results, but the possibilities are high that they cannot meet investor expectations for the fiscal year ending in March 2022 and that should be carefully watched," Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., highlighted.

Rival Fanuc, meanwhile, retreated 1.8 percent.

Toshiba made headway, however, leaping 6.2 percent, after reports said state-backed Japan Investment Corp (JIC) and the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) would join a 20 billion takeover bid by CVC Capital Partners.

Issues that rose outpaced those that fell by 1,292 to 811 on the First Section, while 87 ended the day unchanged.

On the main section on Monday, 954.29 million shares changed hands, dropping from Friday's volume of 1,123.38 million shares.

The turnover on the first trading day of the week came to 2,063.54 billion yen (18.86 billion U.S. dollars).

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