Tokyo markets end lower

TOKYO (AFP): Tokyo shares ended lower on Thursday, after falls on Wall Street, with investors taking to the sidelines and avoiding risk ahead of New Year holidays.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.94 percent, or 246.83 points, to end at 26,093.67, while the broader Topix index dropped 0.72 percent, or 13.75 points, to 1,895.27. The dollar fetched 133.62 yen, against 134.39 yen on Wednesday in New York.

Trade was thin on the Japanese market, where investors “squared positions” to minimise risks from “any surprise event that might happen during the four-day year-end holiday season”, Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, told AFP.

Globally, investors remained leery of China’s economic reopening, with the United States and Italy announcing mandatory Covid-19 testing for travellers from the world’s second-largest economy.

Beijing’s sudden abandonment of tough measures to contain the coronavirus is “providing markets with an inflation headache”, said analyst Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management.

With “little to no visibility into the state of the nation’s outbreak, health officials in other countries fear an upsurge in cases tied to Chinese travellers, who are now unshackled to fly around the globe”, Innes added.

Among major shares in Tokyo, SoftBank Group dropped 1.62 percent to 5,618 yen, Sony Group was down 0.63 percent to 10,115 yen and Toyota lost 0.10 percent to 1,817 yen.

Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing slid 2.97 percent to 79,000 yen.