Nikkei ticks down on virus and stimulus worries after long weekend


TOKYO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Japanese shares eased on Wednesday as the market caught up with the losses in global markets following the country's long weekend, weighed down by fears about rising coronavirus infections and a delay in U.S. fiscal stimulus.

Automakers and other value shares fell the most, but losses were capped as gaming companies and internet-related stocks outperformed on worries about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nikkei share average .N225 shed 0.06% on its first trade since Friday to 23,346.49. The broader Topix .TOPX was down 0.13% at 1,644.25.

"There are worries that coronavirus infections could rise as the temperature cools down. In addition, investors worry about a delay in U.S. stimulus, given that it was the massive economic package that has supported the market," said Fumio Matsumoto, chief strategist at Okasan Securities.

The UK government tightened social restrictions to curb rises in COVID-19 cases, while many U.S. stimulus programmes have lapsed with the Congress unable to clinch another deal.

Concerns that the economy could suffer from a fresh wave of infections without government support poured cold water on cyclical value shares, such as automakers.

The Topix value index .TOPXV lost 0.70%, compared with a 0.34% gain in growth shares .TOPXG.

Suzuki Motor 7269.T declined 3.6%, while Honda Motor 7267.T and Nissan Motor 7201.Tdropped 2.8% and 3.2%, respectively.

Panasonic 6752.T fell 3.7% after Tesla Inc TSLA.O CEO Elon Musk said its highly anticipated new low-cost battery could take three years.

On the other hand, investors flocked to stay-at-home winners such as gaming companies. Bandai Namco 7832.T rose 3.4% and Cyber Agent 4751.T gained 6.0%.

Internet infrastructure companies also did well, with NTT Data 9613.T rising 3.4%.

Fujifilm 4901.T jumped 4.9% after the company said a late-stage study of its antiviral drug Avigan showed it was effective against COVID-19.

Home furnishing store operator Shimachu 8184.T rose 17.4%, its daily limit, after local media reported rival DCM Holdings 3050.T was considering a tender offer for the firm.

DCM also rose 13.2% on hopes of consolidation.

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Devika Syamnath)

((hideyuki.sano@thomsonreuters.com; +81 3 4563 2768))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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