Tokyo stocks close lower with eyes on virus cases

TOKYO (AFP) – Tokyo stocks closed lower on Friday in cautious trade after Wall Street shares ended flat, with investors eyeing rising virus cases in Japan.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slid 0.98 percent, or 267.92 points, to end at 27,013.25, while the broader Topix index lost 0.87 percent, or 16.51 points, to 1,880.68.

“The Tokyo market experienced see-saw trade as investors looked for fresh clues, but shares later fell,” Okasan Online Securities said.

“There is uncertainty over the economic outlook, and traders are holding off from buying shares.”

Japan has reported record new virus cases in recent days and the government has expanded and extended virus states of emergency, which largely limit alcohol sales and bar and restaurant opening hours.

Japan’s core consumer price index that excludes fresh food was down 0.2 percent on-year in July, the 12th consecutive monthly decline.

But the pace of decline was slower than the 0.5 percent fall in June, according to data released by the internal affairs ministry 30 minutes before the opening bell.

The inflation data did not prompt a strong market reaction.

In Tokyo trading, Toyota tumbled 4.08 percent to 8,915 yen after the company said Thursday it will cut global auto production by 40 percent in September as the spread of coronavirus in Southeast Asia squeezes its supply chain.

Toyota’s rival Honda dropped 4.84 percent to 3,221 yen and Nissan plunged 7.24 percent to 524.7 yen.

Uniqlo casual wear operator Fast Retailing lost 1.62 percent to 72,050 yen while SoftBank Group fell 3.60 percent to 6,152 yen.

Drug maker Daiichi Sankyo climbed 2.44 percent to 2,516 yen.

The dollar fetched 109.69 yen in Asian trade, against 109.72 yen in New York late Thursday.