Tokyo stocks close lower on profit-taking, U.S. stimulus concerns

Source: Xinhua| 2021-01-26 18:17:02|Editor: huaxia

TOKYO, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks closed lower Tuesday as investors secured gains following the benchmark Nikkei stock index's 30-year closing high the previous day, with concerns over the enactment of a massive U.S. stimulus plan and COVID-19 vaccination delays adding to a risk-off mood.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 276.11 points, or 0.96 percent, from Monday to close the day at 28,546.18.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, dropped 14.00 points, or 0.75 percent, to finish at 1,848.00.

Tokyo stocks traded lower from the get-go after inheriting a weak lead from Wall Street overnight with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing ground overnight, local brokers said.

They added that investors took to profit-taking after the Nikkei's 30-year closing high amid a barrage of negative cues and jitters about domestic earnings season.

Sentiment was hit by concerns the 1.9-trillion-U.S.-dollar economic stimulus plan may be trimmed during deliberations in Congress as the world's largest and hardest hit economy by the pandemic continues to await vital fiscal support and COVID-19-related relief.

The market mood was also darkened by COVID-19 vaccination problems, with U.S. pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co. announcing it had stopped developing two vaccine candidates due to subpar results in trials, while deliveries of vaccines to European countries by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca Plc. will be less than first thought owing to production issues.

Domestically, concerns have mounted at the government's slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, despite that Japan is one of the first countries to secure doses from Pfizer, AstraZeneca Plc. and Moderna.

The government has said that frontline healthcare workers will be among the first to be inoculated, possibly beginning in late February.

"There are renewed concerns that the coronavirus will be with us longer than anticipated, which explains the decline in cyclical stocks and gains in defensive shares," Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, was quoted as saying.

By the close of play, marine transportation, rubber product, and nonferrous metal-linked issues comprised those that declined the most.

Steelmakers and marine transportation issues dropped on a murky outlook for the global economic recovery amid vaccination setbacks, with JFE Holdings slumping 5.5 percent, while Kobe Steel dropped 2.9 percent.

Among shipping firms, Kawasaki Kisen sank 6.0 percent, while Nippon Yusen ended the day 4.5 percent lower.

Despite vaccination concerns, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. was one of the day's notable winners, adding 1.8 percent.

Japan's biggest drugmaker announced last week it had begun clinical trials here of U.S. biotech Moderna Inc.'s coronavirus vaccine candidate. The Moderna vaccine is aimed to be rolled out in the first half of this year.

The government has also said recently it had secured an additional supply of Pfizer Inc.'s coronavirus vaccine, saying it will be made available for 12 million people.

Japan has already secured enough doses to vaccinate 72 million people, more than half of its population within this year. It agreed last year to buy 120 million doses for 60 million people from the U.S. pharmaceutical giant.

The government here has also made agreements with AstraZeneca Plc. for doses to cover 60 million people, as well as inking a contract with Moderna Inc. for enough doses to inoculate 25 million people.

On the main section on Tuesday, 1,070.61 million shares changed hands, rising from Monday's volume of 1,016.45 million shares.

Issues that declined outpaced those that advanced by 1,276 to 830 on the First Section, while 84 ended the day unchanged.

The turnover on the second trading day of the week came to 2,313.05 billion yen (22.28 billion U.S. dollars). Enditem