Tokyo stocks open flat as traders eye virus impact

The Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.12 per cent before quickly recovering to positive territory to hover around 23,494.64, up 0.07 per cent or 15.49 points, in early trade. — Reuters pic
The Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.12 per cent before quickly recovering to positive territory to hover around 23,494.64, up 0.07 per cent or 15.49 points, in early trade. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, Feb 21 — Tokyo stocks opened flat on Friday as investors assessed the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the world’s third-largest economy.

The Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.12 per cent before quickly recovering to positive territory to hover around 23,494.64, up 0.07 per cent or 15.49 points, in early trade, while the broader Topix index was up 0.24 per cent or 4.05 points at 1,678.53.

The market “is seen lacking a sense of direction,” Mizuho Securities said in a note.

“Trade started with mixture of buying and selling on the backdrop of falling US shares and a cheaper yen against the dollar to ¥112 levels,” it said.

Coronavirus fears weighed on global markets Thursday with the three key US indices all closing down.

Investors “will keep their wait-and-see attitude ahead of three days of holidays, while the rapid depreciation of the yen will keep supporting the market,” it said.

The Japanese market will be closed on Monday for a public holiday.

Meanwhile the yen, which usually holds a safe haven status, was sold due to worries over a slowing economy following Japan’s weak GDP figure for the October-December quarter released earlier this week, and coronavirus worries, analysts said.

The dollar fetched ¥112.11 (RM4.19) against the dollar in early Asian trade, against ¥112.08 in New York and 111.41 in late Tokyo hours on Thursday.

In Tokyo, automakers were among the gainers, with Toyota trading up 1.32 per cent at ¥7,854 and Honda up 0.89 per cent at ¥3,068.

Telecom and investment giant SoftBank Group was up 1.25 per cent at ¥5,600 while Sony was down 0.29 per cent at ¥7,500 and market heavyweight Fast Retailing, the Uniqlo casualwear operator, was down 1.01 per cent at ¥59,040.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended down 0.4 per cent to 29,219.98. — AFP

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