Japan stocks flat in tug of war between rising virus cases, stimulus

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By Stanley White

TOKYO, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Japanese shares were little changed in choppy trade on Thursday as concerns about rising domestic coronavirus cases offset optimism over further U.S. economic stimulus and a pledge of support from the Federal Reserve.

The Nikkei 225 Index was down 0.04% at 26,746.02 by 0214 GMT. The broader Topix rose 0.08% to 1,788.37.

Some traders were slightly cautious because Japan is grappling with a third wave of virus infections, but positive developments in the United States supported sentiment. Democrats and Republicans both sounded hopeful about agreeing on a $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill, and the Fed vowed to keep pouring cash into financial markets until the world’s largest economy was on a sound footing. could easily fall on profit-taking after a stellar rally that pushed the Nikkei to a 29-1/2-year high last week, but analysts remain positive about the mid-term outlook.

“Excessive amounts of liquidity provided by central banks have been the backbone of stock markets this year, and this will continue into next year,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley (NYSE:) Securities.

The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were Nintendo Co Ltd up 4.95%, followed by SoftBank Group Corp up 3.39%.

The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd down 3.80%, followed by Fanuc Corp losing 1.83%.

Japan Post Insurance rose 11.79% after media reports that it would buy back $2.9 billion of its own shares from its parent Japan Post Holdings , whose shares rose 4.12%. Holdings fell 3.77% after a media report that Japan’s government concluded it could not measure the effectiveness of the company’s Avigan drug as a treatment for COVID-19. were 52 advancers on the Nikkei index against 172 decliners.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.5 billion, compared with the average of 1.35 billion in the past 30 days.



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