Japan’s Nikkei falls as tepid Wall Street finish, Omicron woes weigh

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Japan’s Nikkei index ended lower on Friday, tracking weak overnight finish on Wall Street, with technology heavyweights leading the losses, while concerns over the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant also curbed risk appetite.

The Nikkei share average ended 1.28% lower at 28,124.28, after falling more than 2% to a near four-week low. The broader Topix lost 1.39% to 1,977.66.

The Nikkei lost 1.2% this week and the Topix slipped 0.9% for the week.

“The Japanese market fell a lot today – it dropped more than the Dow and S&P overnight. Sentiment has been weakened by the expected rate hikes in the United States so there are not many buyers for Japanese shares,” said Jun Morita, general manager of the research department at Chibagin Asset Management.

All major indexes on Wall Street closed lower, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading losses after a three-day rally, amid talks signalling that the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise rates as early as in March.

“Investors are also worried about the Omicron impact. Japan was faring better than other countries, but now the number of infections have started surging here as well.”

Tokyo recorded a new four-month high in COVID-19 infections on Thursday, and experts forecast the spread of the Omicron will cause the daily count to triple by month’s end.

Staffing agency Recruit Holdings, which many investors see as a tech stock due to its holding in U.S. online job search firm Indeed, dragged down the Nikkei the most with a 4.64% drop.

Robot maker Fanuc fell 5.12% and air-conditioner maker Daikin Industries slipped 2.77%.

Fast Retailing bucked the trend of index heavyweights, jumping 8.07%, as the owner of Uniqlo clothing stores said it would have to raise pries of some products due to higher costs for raw materials and shipping.

Hitachi gave up early gains to fall 0.36% after local media reported the conglomerate would sell part of its stake in Hitachi Construction Machinery. Hitachi Construction tumbled 16.99%.



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