Nikkei makes marginal gains, buoyed by chip sector; Topix treads water


The benchmark Nikkei average managed to stage a rebound Friday despite the coronavirus scare as technology stocks remained popular.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose 31.74 points, or 0.13 percent, to end at 23,827.18 after sinking 235.91 points Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Topix index of all TSE first-section issues edged down 0.06 point, or 0.00 percent, to close at 1,730.44 following a 13.63-point drop the previous day.

The Tokyo market got off to a higher start on active buying of semiconductor-linked stocks, after the tech-heavy Nasdaq index rewrote its all-time closing high for the first time in three sessions while the Dow Jones industrial average finished lower on Wall Street Thursday.

Pre-weekend position-squaring sales gathered steam later in the morning, sending the market into negative territory. But both the Nikkei and Topix recouped their losses in the afternoon, though the broader index dipped toward the closing.

Taken as a whole, investors refrained from active transactions, bracing for fresh news about the spreading coronavirus, brokers said.

Hirohumi Yamamoto, strategist at Toyo Securities Co., attributed the chip stock activity to the release Thursday of Intel Corp.’s robust earnings in October-December 2019.

Chihiro Ota, general manager for investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., pointed out that the World Health Organization’s postponement of a decision on whether to declare the outbreak of the new Chinese virus a global health emergency “put a brake on further growth in the risk-off mood.”

Still, investors were unable to shrug off the virus scare, as “the source of the infection has yet to be identified and no one knows what will happen next,” Toyo’s Yamamoto said.

Meanwhile, Maki Sawada, vice president of Nomura Securities Co.’s Investment Research & Investor Services Department, noted that a halt in the yen’s strengthening against the dollar underpinned the market in the afternoon.

On the TSE’s first section, falling issues far outnumbered rising ones 1,536 to 524, while 99 issues were unchanged. Volume dropped to 965 million shares from Thursday’s 1.049 billion.

In the semiconductor sector, device maker TDK rose 1.27 percent, chip-making gear producer Tokyo Electron 0.82 percent and wafer producer Shin-Etsu Chemical 0.24 percent.

Parcel delivery firm Yamato Holdings climbed 1.99 percent, marking the first turnaround in four market days.

Among other major winners were realtor Mitsubishi Estate and drugmaker Astellas.

On the other hand, Suzuki dropped 2.57 percent after Dutch road authorities issued an improvement order to the automaker over emissions test cheating.

Other losers included restaurant operator Saizeriya and insurer Tokio Marine.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average rose 50 points to 23,800.



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