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Markets

Tokyo stocks open lower on virus worries, strong yen

  • The reading, in line with market expectations and the worst since September 2010, did not prompt a strong reaction from investors.
Published December 18, 2020

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks opened lower on Friday in cautious trade as worries over a rise in virus cases in Japan and a higher yen offset a positive lead from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 0.16 percent, or 43.02 points, at 26,763.65 in early trade, while the broader Topix index lost 0.16 percent, or 2.87 points, to 1,789.71.

"Even though rallies on US stocks to fresh records are a factor to support the market, record levels of new coronavirus infection cases in Japan and a higher yen against the dollar are weighing on the market," senior market strategist Yoshihiro Ito of Okasan Online Securities said in a note.

Investors remained cautious as they watched for the Bank of Japan's policy decision later in the day, analysts said.

The central bank is widely expected to keep its massive easing programme but could extend special programmes to financially support virus-hit companies. The dollar fetched 103.15 yen in early Asian trade, against 103.10 yen in New York and 103.31 yen in Tokyo late Thursday.

In Tokyo, game giant Nintendo was down 0.99 percent at 66,930 yen while its rival Sony was up 3.29 percent at 10,355 yen.

Automakers were mixed, with Toyota trading down 0.64 percent at 7,949 yen but Honda rallying 1.72 percent to 3,076 yen and Nissan trading up 0.42 percent at 576.6 yen.

Japan's core consumer price index that excludes fresh food was minus 0.9 in November, the fourth consecutive monthly decline, according to data issued by the internal affairs ministry before the opening bell.

The reading, in line with market expectations and the worst since September 2010, did not prompt a strong reaction from investors.

Wall Street stocks rallied to fresh records on optimism over stimulus talks and coronavirus vaccines, even as the pandemic worsens in the United States, weighing on the near-term economic outlook.

All three major indices ended at all-time highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.5 percent to 30,303.37.

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