Tokyo stocks turn lower on profit-taking

Tokyo stocks turned lower Friday, weighed down by selling to lock in profits after their three-day rally.

The 225-issue Nikkei average on the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 45.61 points, or 0.19 percent, to end at 23,827.98, in a turnaround from Thursday’s 554.03-point surge.

The Topix index of all TSE first section issues was closed down 4.84 points, or 0.28 percent, at 1,732.14, after soaring 35.15 points the previous day.

The Tokyo market opened higher, in the wake of record-breaking advance on Wall Street Thursday amid spreading optimistic prospects for the U.S. economy and U.S.-China trade.

But after their initial buy orders were executed, investors moved to take profits from the sharp market advance through Thursday, in which the Nikkei leaped more than 900 points, brokers said.

In the afternoon, active trading was held in check ahead of the weekend. Players also wanted to see the U.S. government’s jobs report for January, due out later Friday, brokers added.

Tokyo stocks were unable to keep up with their U.S. peers, as fears over the new coronavirus epidemic in Japan were greater than those in the United States,” said Tomoaki Fujii, head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc.

Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., pointed out that investors refrained from accelerating selling in the afternoon in anticipation of the U.S. Labor Department posting strong employment growth following a far larger-than-expected increase in nonfarm payrolls shown by a closely watched private-sector survey.

On the TSE’s first section, falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,409 to 678 while 72 issues were unchanged. Volume decreased to 1.264 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.654 billion shares.

Chemical-maker Asahi Kasei Corp. plunged after posting an operating profit fall in April-December and issuing a profit warning for the full business year ending March.

Camera-maker Nikon Corp. also bled on dismal earnings news.

Automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., clothing store chain Fast Retailing Co., and chipmaking gear manufacturer Tokyo Electron retreated.

On the other hand, Softbank Group Corp. attracted purchases on media reports that U.S. activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. has built a $2.5 billion stake in the technology investor.

Optical equipment-maker Olympus Corp. surged thanks to a sharp operating profit rise in April-December and upgrading of its earnings projections for the year to March.

Also bought were mobile phone carrier KDDI Corp. and daily goods maker Kao Corp.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average fell 120 points to end at 23,830.

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