Tokyo stocks close flat


Tokyo | AFP

Tokyo stocks closed flat on Monday as concerns over the spread of coronavirus variants offset buying sentiment backed by gains in the tech sector.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index inched up 0.01 percent, or 2.00 points, to 29,685.37, but the broader Topix index slipped 0.22 percent, or 4.31 points, to 1,956.56.

“Chip-related shares were strong, which supported today’s sentiment,” said Yoshihiro Okumura of Chibagin Asset Management.

“But the market remained cautious as we can’t be optimistic about the latest situation of infections at home and overseas,” Okumura told AFP.

“Players are unlikely to hold long positions before the corporate earnings season kicks into high gear next week.”

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said Monday he intended to ask the central government to declare a fresh state of emergency in the western Japanese prefecture, where contagious variants are spreading rapidly.

Vaccination in Japan has moved very slowly, with only the Pfizer shot approved and so far going only to some medical workers and the elderly.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday he asked Pfizer to ship more supplies and hinted that the country should have enough vaccines for all citizens over the age of 16 by September.

Shortly before the opening bell, the Japanese government said the nation’s exports in March surged 16.1 percent from a year ago, driven by automobiles, while imports rose 5.7 percent.

The dollar stood at 108.50 yen in Asian afternoon trade, compared with 108.79 yen in New York on Friday.

Chip manufacturer Renesas jumped 4.29 percent to 1,335 yen after its CEO said the firm aimed to restore full capacity in May at its fire-hit plant.

Chip-testing equipment maker Advantest gained 1.04 percent to 10,640 yen with chip-making equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electron up 1.89 percent at 50,050 yen.

But Toshiba dropped 4.34 percent to 4,400 yen after news reports that a private equity fund would defer submitting a formal proposal to buy the Japanese firm.