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Tokyo: Stocks fall on coronavirus worries; upbeat earnings outlook limits losses

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[TOKYO] Japanese shares fell to a one-month low on Thursday weighed by concerns about fresh coronavirus lockdowns in Europe, although companies issuing bullish forecasts during earnings season limited losses.

The Nikkei 225 Index ended down 0.37 per cent to 23,331.94.

The Nikkei touched its lowest level since Oct 2 but then pared its losses. The broader Topix fell 0.01 per cent to 1,610.93.

France and Germany, Europe's two-largest economies, were forced back into lockdowns to contain a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Some investors were also reluctant to buy equities due to uncertainty about the Nov 3 election in the United States.

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The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Central Japan Railway Co and East Japan Railway Co, which fell 2.4 per cent each.

However, declines in stocks were limited by an improving earnings outlook and as Japan's coronavirus infections were much smaller than those in Europe.

"Japanese stocks are not going to enter a correction phase," said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

"There could be some profit-taking before the US election, but when you look at individual shares, Japanese companies are raising their forecasts and their shares are rising. Our coronavirus infections are relatively small."

The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were consumer electronics maker Sony up 6.69 per cent, followed by industrial conglomerate Hitachi gaining 4.29 per cent.

Both Sony and Hitachi raised their earnings forecasts, which suggests Japanese companies are likely to weather another dip in global economic activity, analysts said.

Stocks showed little reaction to the Bank of Japan's decision to keep its policy on hold earlier on Thursday.

There were 78 advancers on the Nikkei index against 140 decliners.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board was 870 million, compared to the average of 1.05 billion in the past 30 days.

REUTERS

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