Roundup: Tokyo stocks close higher on hopes for coronavirus vaccine

Source: Xinhua| 2020-05-19 19:25:32|Editor: huaxia

TOKYO, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks closed higher Tuesday, as the market inherited a positive lead from U.S. shares advancing overnight after a U.S. biotech firm said that results from its first human trial of a vaccine candidate against the new coronavirus had been "positive".

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average gained 299.72 points, or 1.49 percent, from Monday to close the day at 20,433.45, marking its highest closing level since March 6.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, added 26.76 points, or 1.83 percent, to finish at 1,486.05.

Tokyo stocks opened sharply higher at the start of play, as U.S. shares were lifted overnight following U.S. biotechnology firm Moderna Inc. saying it has received "positive" results from its first human trial of a vaccine candidate against the new coronavirus, brokers here highlighted.

Adding to an upbeat mood was the firm saying in a press release that provisional clinical data showed that the vaccine created coronavirus antibodies in some of those who took part in the trial and added that it was "generally safe".

The World Health Organization has said there are more than 100 candidate vaccines worldwide in various stages of developmental process and trials aimed at combating the virus.

As a result, the S&P 500 ended at a 10-week high, while the Dow closed 3.9 percent higher and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 2.4 percent overnight, providing an upbeat mood for the market here from the get-go, market players here said.

"Developments related to the investigational vaccine eased fears of a second wave of infections and further raised hopes for economic reopening," Toshikazu Horiuchi, equity strategist at IwaiCosmo Securities Co., was quoted as saying.

Horiuchi was referring to the full reopening of Japan's economy, some major cities of which, including Tokyo and Osaka, are still under coronavirus-linked restrictions under the state of emergency.

A continued drop in new daily COVID-19 cases in the areas that are still under restrictions, such has been the case recently, will likely see all restrictions lifted in the near future by the central government and Japan's economy fully brought back on line, market strategists have said.

Some investors opted not to chase the market's upside further, however, owing to concerns over some dismal corporate earnings reports and a number of bellwether firms here opting not to release profit guidances for the current year, investment analysts said, adding that some shares, thus, came under selling pressure.

"Shares faced selling pressure when the Nikkei breached the technically important line of 20,500," Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., was quoted as saying.

Financial issues including banks and insurers found favor, with Dai-ichi Life Holdings adding 2.8 percent, while Tokio Marine Holdings climbed 4.5 percent. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group both ended the day 4.1 percent higher.

Cyclical issues including steelmakers and shipping lines gained traction on hopes for Japan's economic restart, with JFE Holdings leaping 6.6 percent, while Nippon Steel jumped 6.8 percent.

Kawasaki Kisen rose 4.7 percent, while counterpart Mitsui O.S.K. Lines ended the day 4.9 percent higher.

In terms of issues moving on individual news, Panasonic Corp. surged 7.0 percent, after announcing a day earlier that due to healthy demand for its batteries from U.S. partner Tesla Inc., talks were now underway to expand their joint plant in Nevada.

Heavily weighted Nikkei component SoftBank Group Corp., bucked the upward trend, dropping 2.8 percent, after reporting its Vision Fund had incurred a hefty 18 billion U.S. dollar loss, pushing up the group's overall losses and raising concerns about the health of the many startups the firms has acquired.

By the close of play, iron and steel, insurance and marine transportation-linked issues comprised those that gained the most, and issues that rose outpaced those that declined by 1,678 to 426 on the First Section, while 66 ended the day unchanged.

On the main section on Tuesday, 1.589 billion shares changed hands, rising from Monday's volume of 1.210 billion shares.

The turnover on the second trading day of the week came to 2.540 trillion yen (23.607 billion U.S. dollars). Enditem