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Nikkei ends at 2-month low on weak earnings, US election concerns

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo stocks ended down Friday, with the Nikkei index finishing at its lowest level since August, as investor sentiment was hurt by weak earnings from some major Japanese companies and uncertainty ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3.

    The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 354.81 points, or 1.52 percent, from Thursday at 22,977.13, the lowest close since Aug. 28. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 31.60 points, or 1.96 percent, lower at 1,579.33.

    Decliners were led by pulp and paper, precision instrument and securities house issues.

    The U.S. dollar retreated to the lower 104 yen zone as investors fled to the perceived safety of the yen amid risk aversion triggered by falls in Tokyo shares.

    At 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 104.35-36 yen compared with 104.56-66 yen in New York and 104.28-29 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Thursday.

    The euro was quoted at $1.1677-1678 and 121.85-89 yen against $1.1667-1677 and 122.07-17 yen in New York and $1.1735-1737 and 122.37-41 yen in Tokyo late Thursday afternoon.

    The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond rose 0.010 percentage point from Thursday's close to 0.035 percent as the safe-haven debt was sold after overnight gains on Wall Street eased risk aversion.

    Stocks lost ground from the outset and extended losses toward the end of the day.

    "Investors were closing some of their positions ahead of the U.S. presidential election," said Makoto Sengoku, a market analyst at the Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

    Investors are increasingly concerned that there will be a delay in counting postal votes, which are surging amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it will take time to determine who won the election, brokers said.

    On the First Section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,897 to 244, while 39 ended unchanged.

    Poor earnings from companies hit by the pandemic for the first half through September weighed on the market.

    Electronic component maker Kyocera sank 633 yen, or 9.9 percent, to 5,731 yen, Tokyo Disney Resort operator Oriental Land fell 645 yen, or 4.2 percent, to 14,585 yen, while information technology giant NEC lost 250 yen, or 4.5 percent, to 5,250 yen.

    Trading volume on the main section rose to 1,313.80 million shares from Thursday's 1,012.37 million shares.

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