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Nikkei ends marginally higher; Japan shares rise as SoftBank, Uniqlo owner rebound

TOKYO: Japan’s Nikkei ended modestly higher on Tuesday as shares of SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing rebounded, although worries over a potential spike in coronavirus infections during the Olympics limited gains.

The Nikkei share average closed 0.16 per cent higher at 28,643.21, giving up earlier gains of 0.5 per cent. The broader Topix gained 0.28 per cent at 1,954.50.

Tech-startup investor SoftBank Group rose 1 per cent and Uniqlo clothing chain operator Fast Retailing added 0.45 per cent, while air-conditioner maker Daikin Industries rallied 2.6 per cent, following sharp declines on Monday.

The Nikkei had slid more than 0.6 per cent in the previous session after a rise in COVID-19 cases in Tokyo over the weekend.

“It looks like there is some buying back of shares after yesterday’s sell-off,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

“There will soon be a big influx of athletes and media from around the world for the Olympics, and investors worry there could be a spike in infections, which is capping any rise in Japanese stocks.”

Japan’s government is likely to decide on Thursday to extend a state of quasi-emergency in Tokyo and three nearby prefectures beyond an original end-date of July 11.

Industrial machinery manufacturer

Zozen was the biggest percentage gainer on the Nikkei, rising 4.2 per cent, while the biggest percentage loser was packaging container maker Toyo Seikan Group Holdings, which suffered a 4.1 per cent decline.

Among sectors, air transport gained the most on the Topix, adding 2.8 per cent. Oil and coal producers were next, up 1.8 per cent, followed by miners, which rose 1.6 per cent.

Shippers fell the most, down 1 per cent, with securities firms down 0.7 per cent, followed by a 0.6 per cent decline for pharma companies.

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