Nikkei Slips from MultiDecade Highs on Vaccine Supply Fears

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei share average closed lower on Friday, retreating from a near 29-1/2-year high as risk sentiment soured after U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc said it had slashed the target for the rollout of its coronavirus vaccine.

The Nikkei share average fell 0.22% to 26,751.24, but posted its fifth consecutive weekly gain. In the previous session, the index settled near its highest since April 1991.

The broader Topix ended nearly flat at 1,775.94.

The market tracked the U.S. S&P 500 index, which fell from all-time highs on Thursday, after Pfizer flagged challenges in supply chain for the raw materials used in its vaccine.

“Expectations were high for the vaccine … But market losses are limited because the market still has hopes that governments in countries such as Japan, U.S and Europe will deliver large-scale additional stimulus measures,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Among individual decliners, Tokyo Electron dropped 3.12% on profit-taking after the recent outperformance of tech stocks.

Export-oriented stocks were hurt by a stronger yen against the dollar. Fanuc fell 0.82%, while Sony Corp lost more than 0.2% before closing nearly flat.

Auto-related shares advanced after local media reported that Japan may ban sales of new gasoline-engine cars by the mid-2030s, and that the government would hold talks next week to establish a carbon offset market for the industry.

These moves come after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s pledge for Japan to slash carbon emissions to zero on a net basis by 2050.

Denso Corp jumped more than 7.7%, while Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor Corp added 2.6% and 0.24%, respectively.

Battery-related shares followed suit, with Furukawa Battery jumping 14.19% and FDK Corp adding 4.37%.

Suga is expected to hold a news conference later in the day to provide an update on the country’s pandemic response, his first since coronavirus case numbers surged in November.

(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

Source: Reuters

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