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Tokyo stocks snap 3-day losing streak on bargain-hunting

This file photo shows the Tokyo Stock Exchange. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo stocks ended slightly higher Wednesday, snapping a three-day losing streak, as investors scooped up battered shares, although concern about the new Omicron coronavirus variant continued to weigh on the market.

    The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 113.86 points, or 0.41 percent, from Tuesday at 27,935.62. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 8.39 points, or 0.44 percent, higher at 1,936.74.

    Gainers were led by pulp and paper, marine transportation and machinery issues.

    The U.S. dollar edged up into the lower 113 yen range on expectations the interest rate gap between the United States and Japan will widen a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. central bank would consider speeding up stimulus tapering, dealers said.

    At 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 113.41-43 yen compared with 113.09-19 yen in New York and 113.18-19 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

    The euro was quoted at $1.1340-1341 and 128.61-65 yen against $1.1334-1344 and 128.22-32 yen in New York and $1.1328-1330 and 128.21-25 yen in Tokyo late Tuesday afternoon.

    The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond inched up 0.005 percentage point from Tuesday's close to 0.060 percent, as investors sold the safe-haven debt on Powell's remark.

    Stocks were higher from the outset as investors went into buying mode after the Nikkei index plunged more than 1,600 points over three trading days, ending Tuesday at its lowest level since Oct. 7.

    The benchmark briefly fell into negative territory in the morning on fears surrounding the Omicron variant, a day after Japan reported its first case after a Namibian diplomat was found to be infected with the heavily mutated variant.

    However, the market rebounded as it was also supported by steady U.S. stock futures throughout the afternoon, brokers said.

    "Investors bought back battered shares as the market dropped too quickly over the past few days, although they refrained from chasing the upside due to some negative factors including the COVID-19 variant and concerns the U.S. Fed will accelerate stimulus tapering," Koichi Fujishiro, a senior economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

    Transportation issues especially took a hit as travel demand is expected to be pushed back due to the new strain, he added.

    East Japan Railway sagged 61 yen, or 0.9 percent, to 6,925 yen, Odakyu Electric Railway declined 15 yen, or 0.7 percent, to 2,172 yen, and Keio slumped 50 yen, or 1.0 percent, to 5,060 yen.

    Meanwhile, machinery shares rose after Finance Ministry data showed a rise in capital spending in the July-September period from a year earlier, with expenditures by manufacturers climbing for the second consecutive quarter.

    Daikin Industries jumped 1,035 yen, or 4.5 percent, to 24,185 yen, Komatsu added 27.0 yen, or 1.0 percent, to finish at 2,619.0 yen, and industrial robot producer Yaskawa Electric advanced 170 yen, or 3.3 percent, to 5,260 yen.

    On the First Section, advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1,368 to 751, while 65 ended unchanged.

    Trading volume on the main section fell to 1,441.19 million shares from Tuesday's 2,545.76 million shares.

    ==Kyodo

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