Tokyo shares close higher as weaker yen lifts automakers; virus caps gains

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
Tokyo shares close higher as weaker yen lifts automakers; virus caps gains
Credit: © Reuters.

TOKYO, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks ended higher on Thursday as a rapidly weakening yen, which hit a near 10-month low versus the dollar overnight, lifted export-focused automakers, but the gains were capped by concerns over the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The benchmark Nikkei average .N225 ended up 0.3% at 23,479.15, while the broader Topix .TOPX added 0.2% to 1,674.48.

Both indexes erased most of their early gains on news that two passengers from the virus-hit cruise ship moored near Tokyo have died and 29 people were in a serious condition, analysts said. two-thirds of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished in positive territory, with mining .IMING.T , transport equipment .ITEQP.T and paper and pulp .IPAPR.T being the top three performers.

The yen dived to its lowest level since early May versus the dollar of JPY=EBS overnight, providing a tailwind for Japanese exporters as a weaker local currency boosts corporate profits when they are repatriated.

Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T advanced 2.8%, while Honda Motor Co Ltd 7267.T rose 2.2% and Subaru Corp 7270.T added 2.4%.

The Nikkei's heavyweight SoftBank Group 9984.T climbed 3.4% after the tech conglomerate said it plans to borrow up to 500 billion yen ($4.5 billion) from 16 domestic and foreign financial institutions using almost a third of its stake in telco SoftBank Corp 9434.T as collateral. & i Holdings 3382.T tumbled 8.8% after Bloomberg reported that the retail group is in exclusive talks to buy Marathon Petroleum (NYSE: MPC ) Corp's MPC.N Speedway business. However, Seven & i said the firm is considering acquisitions but nothing has been decided. Maeda Road Construction 1883.T dived 8.4% after the company said it plans to pay a special dividend of 53.6 billion yen to counter a takeover bid by its biggest shareholder Maeda Corp 1824.T . ($1 = 111.2400 yen)

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