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Tokyo shares mixed on emergency extension worry, asset purchase hope

This file photo taken on Oct. 26, 2017, shows an electronic stock quotation signboard at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the Japanese capital. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo shares ended mixed Tuesday as concerns the government may extend its state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic offset buying on expectations for purchases of exchange-traded funds by the Bank of Japan.

    The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 12.03 points, or 0.06 percent, from Monday at 19,771.19. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 1.90 points, or 0.13 percent, higher at 1,449.15.

    Decliners were led by iron and steel, and mining issues, while major advancers included rubber product and air transportation issues.

    In the currency market, the U.S. dollar fell against the yen after a decline in U.S. interest rates, fetching 107.07-08 yen at 5 p.m., compared with 107.22-32 yen in New York and 107.22-23 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Monday.

    The euro was quoted at $1.0839-0840 and 116.05-09 yen against $1.0823-0833 and 116.09-19 yen in New York and $1.0841-0843 and 116.24-28 yen in Tokyo late Monday afternoon.

    Tokyo stocks were mostly under pressure as many market players believe the ongoing increase in COVID-19 patients across the country will not allow the government to lift the state of emergency declaration ending on May 6, brokers said.

    Despite the recent slowdown in the daily count, the market is leaning toward the view that containment measures are failing to draw effective results, they said.

    "Without clear indications on whether the infection situation is heading in a better direction, market players remain cautious of actively buying shares," Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., said.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a parliamentary session Monday he will study whether to extend the state of emergency after receiving proposals from various experts.

    Nonetheless, the Nikkei erased much of its earlier losses in the afternoon as expectations emerged the BOJ would purchase assets to prevent the equity market from falling further.

    News about gradual economic restarts in the United States and some European countries helped send the Nikkei into positive territory in early trading, although the momentum was short-lived.

    The stock market also had a muted reaction to Japan's unemployment rate in March, which rose to a one-year high of 2.5 percent amid the pandemic, the brokers said.

    Meanwhile, government bonds were bought on expectations the BOJ would ramp up state debt purchases, following the decision by the central bank Monday of scrapping the upper limit for such buying operations.

    The yield of benchmark 10-year government debt fell to minus 0.050 percent, down 0.010 percentage point from the previous day.

    On the TSE's First Section, advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1,330 to 757, while 83 ended unchanged.

    Technology issues were firm as a slew of corporate earnings from the sector indicated solid demand for chips and capital investment. Screen Holdings jumped 160 yen, or 3.3 percent, to 5,060 yen, Yaskawa Electric climbed 105 yen, or 3.2 percent, to 3,375 yen, and Panasonic gained 23.50 yen, or 3.0 percent, to 797.10 yen.

    Department store operators were hurt by uncertainty about the possible extension of the nationwide state of emergency. J. Front Retailing declined 27 yen, or 3.0 percent, to 863 yen, and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings sagged 13 yen, or 2.0 percent, to 647 yen.

    Oil-related issues also struggled following a plunge overnight in crude prices. Trading house Marubeni slid 7.80 yen, or 1.5 percent, to 509.00 yen, and explorer Inpex skidded 8.10 yen, or 1.2 percent, to 657.70 yen.

    Trading volume on the main section slightly fell to 1,233.55 million shares from Monday's 1,247.40 million shares.

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