Japanese Stock Market Drifts Lower



The Japanese stock market slipped into negative territory on Friday after opening higher despite the weak cues overnight from Wall Street on worse-than-expected weekly jobless claims data. Worries about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Tokyo weighed on sentiment.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported an all-time high of 286 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 31.27 points or 0.14 percent to 22,739.09 after rising to a high of 22,857.82 earlier. Japanese shares declined on Thursday. Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing more than 1 percent, while Fast Retailing is declining 1 percent.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Sony is lower by 1 percent and Canon is down almost 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is rising 0.6 percent and Panasonic is adding 0.4 percent. In the financial sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing 0.5 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is adding 0.5 percent and Honda is down almost 1 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is rising almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is declining 0.4 percent and Japan Petroleum is down 0.3 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Hitachi is rising more than 4 percent, while Eisai Co. and Screen Holdings are higher by more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, DIC Corp. and Nippon Paper Industries are losing almost 5 percent each, while Amada Co. and Sumitomo Realty & Development are lower by more than 3 percent each. In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 107 yen-range on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday after a Labor Department report showed that the decline in first-time claims for unemployment benefits nearly ground to a halt last week. The negative sentiment was partly offset by a report from the Commerce Department showing another substantial increase in retail sales in June, although the data was seen as old news as some states roll back their reopening plans due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Dow fell 135.39 points or 0.5 percent to 26,734.71, the Nasdaq slid 76.66 points or 0.7 percent to 10,473.83, and the S&P 500 dipped 10.99 points or 0.3 percent to 3,215.57.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled lower on Thursday on worries about the outlook for near-term energy demand and the latest decision by OPEC+ to start tapering production cuts beginning next month. WTI crude for August ended down $0.45 or about 1.1 percent at $40.75 a barrel.

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