Japan stocks slip from 29-1/2-year high on virus spike,

Reuters TOKYO | Updated on December 21, 2020

A man wearing a protective face mask, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walks in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan.   -  REUTERS

New coronavirus strain in Britain

Japanese shares fell from a 29-1/2-year high hit earlier in the session on Monday, as concerns about a spike in domestic coronavirus infections and the emergence of a new strain of the virus in Britain weighed on sentiment for riskier assets.

The Nikkei 225 Index fell 0.64% to 26,592.82 by 0212GMT. At the opening bell, the benchmark rose to its highest level since April 1991 but quickly erased those gains and headed lower.

The broader Topix also fell 0.67% to 1,781.20.

New coronavirus infections have been rising to record levels in Tokyo and other major cities.

New mutant virus in UK

European countries are blocking travel from Britain after a new strain of coronavirus was identified that is up to 70% more infectious.

Sentiment also took a hit due to faltering trade negotiations between Britain and the European Union, while some analysts pointed to a rising yen as a reason to sell shares inJapanese exporters.

The combination of negative factors suggests that Tokyo shares will likely end 2020 on the back foot, after rallying 64% from this year's lows in March.

"Some investors are worried that stocks have been overbought, so it is tempting to book profits in reaction to negative news about the coronavirus," said Kiyoshi Ishigane,chief fund manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management.

The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Fanuc Corpdown 2.40%, followed by Honda Motor Co Ltd losing 2.33%.

The top gainers on the Topix 30 index were Daikin Industries Ltd, up 2.23 %, followed by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc, gaining 1.52%.

There were 39 advancers on the Nikkei index against 182decliners.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange'smain board was 0.5 billion, compared to the average of1.34 billion in the past 30 days

Kospi Index slips

South Korean shares fell on Monday as a worsening COVID-19 pandemic sapped risk appetite despite optimism around the U.S. stimulus. The Korean won weakened, while the benchmark bond yield rose. ** By 0206 GMT, the benchmark KOSPI fell 14.82 points, or 0.53%, to 2,757.36.

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Published on December 21, 2020
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