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.
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.
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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