Fri, 18 Sep 2020

TOKYO, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks ended essentially flat on Friday as buying on a weaker yen gave exporters including medical machinery issues a boost, although this was offset by profit-taking following the market's recent rise.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average edged up 39.75 points, or 0.17 percent, from Thursday to close the day at 23,289.36.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, shed 0.77 point, or 0.05 percent, at 1,623.38.

Local brokers said that the yen's softer tone supported some buying, with medical-linked and pharmaceutical issues finding favor.

"Investors were hesitant about chasing the rally further, but the market was supported by some buying of biomedical and medical machinery issues that have been seen as relatively cheaper than other sectors," Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co., was quoted as saying.

Market players added, however, that profit-taking was also pervasive, with investors keen to lock in gains rather than chase the market higher, as the Nikkei had added 4 percent for the week.

Data showing that U.S. unemployment claims had dropped to pre-pandemic levels fueled hopes for a broader global economic recovery, but uncertainties remained over an ongoing stalemate in the U.S. over virus-linked economic stimulus measures market strategists said, as well as COVID-19 infections reemerging in European and Australasian countries.

More solid trading cues were needed for investors to be more bullish, they added, and until then Tokyo shares would remain top-heavy with major moves being dictated foreign investors' short-covering.

By the close of play, service and pharmaceutical issues led notable gainers, while mining and real estate issues comprised those that declined the most.

Pharmaceutical issues continued to find favor following the U.S. government and Moderna Inc. agreeing this week to supply 100 million doses of its prospective coronavirus vaccine.

Japanese drug makers have also been underpinned following the government here earlier this month saying it has agreed with with British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc to receive 120 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine being developed with the University of Oxford.

Similarly, Japan has agreed with Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE to receive 120 million doses of their potential vaccine, providing its development proves successful.

As such, Eisai added 2.7 percent, while drug maker Daiichi Sankyo ended the day 1.4 percent higher.

Fujifilm Holdings advanced 2.8 percent, after saying delayed clinical trials of its potential COVID-19 treatment drug Avigan in Japan would be completed next month.

Fujifilm also got a boost after announcing the previous day its operating profit for the April-June period came in ahead of median market expectations.

Issues that declined due to profit-taking including energy-linked shares, with Japan Petroleum Exploration losing 2.3 percent, while exploration giant Inpex retreated 1.6 percent.

Real estate issues were also sold for gains after recent advances, with Mitsubishi Estate closing down 2.3 percent and Mitsui Fudosan dropping 3.1 percent.

Issues that fell outpaced those that rose by 1,276 to 818 on the First Section, while 79 ended the day unchanged.

On the main section on Friday, 1.055 billion shares changed hands, dropping from Thursday's volume of 1.411 billion shares.

The turnover on the final trading day of the week came to 2.027 trillion yen (18.995 billion U.S. dollars).

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