A man wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), walks past a screen showing the Nikkei index outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Tokyo stocks opened lower on Monday

Tokyo stocks opened lower on Monday as investors searched for new cues amid sustained optimism about US economic growth as vaccinations against the coronavirus continue.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.32 percent, or 95.93 points, to 29,587.44, while the broader Topix index slipped 0.29 percent, or 5.61 points, to 1,955.26, reports BSS.

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“Although US shares closed at new records highs, the Tokyo market may take a wait-and-see stance before the corporate earnings season kicks into high gear” from later this week, SBI Securities said in a note.

The Dow gained 0.5 percent to end at 34,201.13 on Friday while the S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent to hit 4,185.53, both new records, maintaining general optimism in the global market.

But Tokyo shares faced sell orders as the Nikkei approached around 30,000, while players looked for fresh incentives to move the market.

“Investors are waiting for fresh cues. The Nikkei index is expected to hover inside a narrow range,” Okasan Online Securities said.

Investors are generally hopeful about accelerated vaccination efforts in the United States as a step toward economic normalcy.

But vaccination in Japan has moved very slowly, with only the Pfizer version approved and so far going to some medical workers and the elderly.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke with Pfizer chief Albert Bourla during the weekend and asked for more supplies.

Japan’s minister in charge of vaccination, Taro Kono, said on Sunday that Japan should have enough vaccines for all citizens by September.

“Prime Minister Suga’s requests for the Pfizer vaccine can provide support for the market. But the market is unlikely to chase its upside as Japan sees increasing daily new infection counts,” Okasan Online Securities said.

Shortly before the opening bell, the Japanese government said the nation’s exports in March surged 16.1 percent from a year ago, driven by automobiles, while imports rose 5.7 percent.

The dollar stood at 108.68 yen, a little changed from 108.79 yen in New York on Friday.

Blue chip shares faltered in the Tokyo market.

Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing dropped 1.62 percent to 88,770 yen. Toyota fell 0.28 percent to 8,506 yen. Sony Group lost 0.91 percent to 11,970 yen. SoftBank Group fell 0.69 percent to 10,010 yen.

But digital imaging and medical equipment maker FujiFilm Holdings rose 1.02 percent to 6,920 yen.

Electronic parts maker Murata Manufacturing added 1.56 percent to 9,133 yen. Tokyo Electron, a major producer of tools to build semiconductors, added 0.86 percent to 49,540 yen.

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