Tokyo stocks open lower on fears of worsening pandemic

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TOKYO (AFP) – Tokyo stocks opened lower on Monday, with fears over increasing global virus infections outweighing hopes for a resumption of business activity, and investors eyeing economic indicators due this week.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 0.55 percent or 123.92 points at 22,354.87 in early trade, while the broader Topix index fell 0.37 percent or 5.93 points to 1,576.87.

“Japanese shares are starting with subdued trade after the US Dow fell by more than 200 points,” Toshiyuki Kanayama, senior market analyst at Monex, said in a note.

US stocks on Friday lost ground after Apple announced it would close some stores that had recently reopened as coronavirus cases rise.

While infections have fallen sharply in America’s Northeast and much of the Midwest, states including Florida, Nevada and Arizona have reported record case counts in recent days.

“Saturday’s pan-USA numbers were the highest since June 8 with particularly alarming rates of increase noted in Florida, Texas and Arizona,” chief strategist Ray Attrill of National Australia Bank said in a commentary.

“In the last couple of hours, California has reported its highest daily infection rate to date,” he noted.

Brazil registered its 50,000th death from the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, underlining Latin America’s desperate struggle to contain the disease, as Europe’s gradual emergence from lockdown was marked by Spain reopening its borders.

The World Health Organization has warned of a “new and dangerous phase” of the pandemic, with people tiring of lockdowns despite the virus’s accelerating spread.

Looking ahead, investors are closely monitoring a set of global data including US existing home sales for May due later in the day, and the German Ifo business climate index due on Wednesday, Ichiro Asai, Daiwa Securities strategist, said in a commentary.

The dollar fetched 106.85 yen in early Asian trade, against 106.84 yen in New York on Friday.

In Tokyo, Toyota was down 0.83 percent at 6,794 yen, Panasonic was off 0.53 percent at 954.2 yen, and Uniqlo casual wear operator Fast Retailing was down 0.59 percent at 62,580 yen.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended down 0.8 percent at 25,871.46.

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