Mon, 18 Jan 2021

TOKYO, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks closed mixed on Friday as market players' confidence was hurt by reports that COVID-19 vaccine dispatch will be halved by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE this year due to supply chain problems.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average decreased 58.13 points, or 0.22 percent, from Thursday at 26,751.24.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, ended 0.69 point, or 0.04 percent, higher at 1,775.94.

Air transportation and real estate issues comprised those that shed the most by the close of play, while iron and steel and textile and apparel issues led gainers.

The Nikkei index opened lower and extended losses in the morning following reports that Pfizer will cut half of its expected production of 100 million COVID-19 vaccines to 50 million doses this year due to raw material supply chain problems.

After the initial selling eased, the index shed some losses before the end of the day as market players sought bargains.

"Hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine and business improvements on the back of economic recovery remain," Maki Sawada, vice president of the investment research and investor services department at Nomura Securities Co., was quoted by local media, referring to factors that recently helped lift the Nikkei.

Despite Pfizer's plan to reduce vaccine shipments, Sawada said the Tokyo stocks remained underpinned by the fact that Pfizer's vaccine will still be distributed, referring to news that Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE will change the dispatch plan.

The pharmaceutical companies will apply for approval from the Japanese government, which has agreed in principle to acquire doses for 60 million people.

When the market closed here, Rakuten shed 7.3 percent following NTT Docomo Inc.'s announcement that it will introduce a 20-gigabyte monthly plan in March at the same price as budget wireless operator Rakuten Mobile Inc.'s fee plan.

Semiconductor equipment maker Tokyo Electron fell 3.1 percent, while Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing chain, decreased 1.4 percent.

On the First Section, shedding issues outnumbered gaining ones 1,116 to 969, while 93 finished the day unchanged.

Trading volume on the main section declined to 1,147.90 million shares compared to Thursday's 1,233.43 million shares.

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