Tokyo's Nikkei closes lower over virus worries

File: The benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.18 percent, or 49.27 points, to 26,806.67, while the broader Topix index was up 0.32 percent, or 5.75 points, at 1,792.58. AFP/Nicolas Asfouri

TOKYO - Tokyo's key Nikkei index closed lower on Friday, pushed down by worries over coronavirus vaccine distribution, as investors awaited a press conference by Japan's prime minister later in the day.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 0.22 percent or 58.13 points to end at 26,751.24, but gained 0.40 percent from a week earlier.

The broader Topix index inched up 0.04 percent or 0.69 points to 1,775.94. It lost 0.59 percent over the week.

The world passed 1.5 million global coronavirus deaths on Thursday, even as several nations readied plans to deliver vaccines early next year to break the cycle of restrictions.

US media reported that Pfizer had scaled back its COVID-19 vaccine production targets after running into difficulties securing the materials it needs to produce the vaccines at a large scale.

The US pharma giant had aimed to manufacture up to 100 million doses this year, a figure which has been reduced to 50 million, the reports said.

"Stock gains fade after Dow Jones reported that Pfizer expects to ship half the COVID-19 vaccines it originally planned for 2020 due to supply-chain problems," Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp, said in a note.

But Innes added that no one is surprised "there are not enough sub-arctic temperature shipping containers instantly available".

Investors are closely watching the November US jobs data due later in the day, analysts said. They are also eyeing a press conference from Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga scheduled later Friday.

In Tokyo share trading, market heavyweights Softbank Group and Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo casual wear chain, dropped 1.63 percent to 7,260 yen and 1.42 percent to 86,420 yen, respectively.

Airlines were lower with Japan Airlines sinking 1.16 percent to 2,033 yen while ANA Holdings fell 2.49 percent to 2,486.5 yen.

Toyota rose 0.23 percent to 7,181 yen while Honda gained 1.45 percent to 3,130 yen. Nintendo grew 1.20 percent to 56,930 yen.

The dollar fetched 103.90 yen in Asian trade, against 103.84 yen in New York and 104.47 yen late in Tokyo on Thursday.

Source
AFP

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