Roundup: Tokyo stocks close lower on profit-taking after hitting 30-year high

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 17, 2021
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TOKYO, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks closed lower Wednesday, as investors opted to take profits following the benchmark Nikkei stock index's fresh 30-year closing high the previous day, although losses were capped by the country's first vaccine rollout.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average dropped 175.56 points, or 0.58 percent, from Tuesday to close the day at 30,292.19.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, lost 3.59 points, or 0.18 percent, to finish at 1,961.49.

Shares posting solid advances following the Nikkei's recent rallies to 30-year closing highs were ripe for profit-taking, local brokers said, with chip-related issues retreating following their U.S. counterparts' overnight slide.

"Investors are selling stocks for profit booking today. The market is taking a pause from a rising momentum," Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management, was quoted as saying.

Market strategists added that Japan's long-awaited vaccine rollout helped limit the market's downside amid hopes that the initial phase of vaccinations will lead to the eventual return of fully-fledged economic activities.

"Shares that were beaten down amid the pandemic are being bought as rising interest rates in the U.S. and Japan indicates an economic recovery. Rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines in Japan is another positive factor," Ichikawa added.

Japan on Wednesday began administering its first COVID-19 vaccinations to medical workers, with the first inoculations using the vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German partner BioNTech taking place at the National Tokyo Medical Center.

Around 40,000 medical workers will receive the first jabs, double the number initially planned, with 12 of around 800 workers at the medical center in the capital first to be vaccinated on Wednesday and reporting no side immediate effects.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, meanwhile, told a parliamentary committee meeting that the vaccines were essential in the nation's bid to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"The vaccines will be the decisive factor in fighting the coronavirus," Suga said, adding that he would continue to push forward with the rollout while keeping the public informed.

Following the initial round of medical workers being inoculated, in March, around 3.7 million health workers will also begin receiving the vaccine, followed by 36 million people aged 65 or older from April.

A second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine is scheduled to arrive from Europe next week, Japan's minister in charge of vaccination efforts Taro Kono said the previous day, to ensure there are enough doses to vaccinate the elderly in Japan's rapidly aging society.

Following the elderly, those with preexisting conditions and those working at elderly care facilities will be next in line to be vaccinated, followed by the rest of the population.

By the close of play, rubber product, precision instrument and real estate-linked issues comprised those that declined the most.

Issues benefiting from Japan's vaccine rollout included transportation stocks, with investors hoping that the nationwide inoculation campaign alongside global efforts would lead to the normalization of both domestic and international travel and leisure activities.

As such, Central Japan Railway added 2.5 percent, while West Japan Railway gained 0.6 percent.

Japan Airlines rose 4.2 percent by the close, while ANA Holdings climbed 4.2 percent.

Similarly, shipping firms gained on expectations for the global economic recovery, with Mitsui OSK Lines rising 4.5 percent, while Kawasaki Kisen ended the day 5.7 percent higher.

Technology issues lost ground as investors booked gains, with Tokyo Electron dropping 2.2 percent, industrial robot maker Yaskawa Electric sliding 3.2 percent, while TDK fell 3.2 percent.

Tire maker Bridgestone was a notable decliner, losing 4.1 percent, after announcing its first annual net loss in 69 years due to hefty costs incurred due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On the main section on Wednesday, 1,371.52 million shares changed hands, dropping from Tuesday's volume of 1,409.70 million shares.

The turnover on the third trading day of the week came to 2,767.035 billion yen (26.107 billion U.S. dollars). Enditem

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