BUSINESS Tokyo stocks close lower on concerns over rampant Omicron spread


Tokyo stocks close lower on concerns over rampant Omicron spread


18:53, January 13, 2022

TOKYO, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks closed lower Thursday as the market mood was dampened by concerns over a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Japan, which is currently grappling with a sixth wave of infections as the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus runs rampant.

File photo: AP

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 276.53 points, or 0.96 percent, from Wednesday to close the day at 28,489.13.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, dropped 13.78 points, or 0.68 percent, to finish at 2,005.58.

Dealers here said that investors were concerned that with infections hitting a four-month high a day earlier in major business hubs such as Tokyo and Osaka, the outlook for Japan's economic recovery looks bleak.

"Investors are starting to think that economic normalization will be delayed, and that's weighing on sentiment," one market participant at a domestic securities firm was quoted as saying.

Compounding investor concerns, the Tokyo metropolitan government on Thursday raised its COVID-19 alert level by one notch to the second highest on its four tier scale owing to the rampant spread of the Omicron variant of the virus around the capital.

Nationwide, cases topped 10,000 for the first time in four months, official figures showed.

"Market participants are worried that people may be asked to refrain from going out in big cities in Japan where many businesses are located," Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co., was quoted as saying.

By the close of play, issues that declined outpaced those that rose by 1,605 to 502 on the First Section, while 78 ended the day unchanged, with declining stocks led by precision instrument, retail and service-oriented issues.

Tech related issues came under pressure, with Olympus dropping 5 percent, Yasakawa tumbling 6.3 percent, while Fujitsu General ended the day 2.4 percent lower.

Transportation issues retreated due to fears of falling patronage as more and more people stay at home as the number of Omicron cases continues to surge, with Japan Airlines losing 1.5 percent, while Odakyu Electric Railway slipped 3.6 percent.

Retail stocks were also sold for similar reasons, with department store operator J. Front Retailing losing 0.4 percent by the close.

Bucking the downward trend, some chipmakers found favor, however, with Advantest adding 1.6 percent, while Tokyo Electron advanced 0.35 percent.

On the main section on Thursday, 1,163.57 million shares changed hands, dropping from Wednesday's volume of 1,197.95 million shares.

The turnover on the penultimate trading day of the week came to 2,767.98 billion yen (24.18 billion U.S. dollars).

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