TOKYO, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Japanese shares ended lower on
Thursday, weighed down by worries about the economic impact of
the Omicron coronavirus variant and a hawkish tilt by the U.S.
The Nikkei average settled 0.65% lower at 27,753.37,
after falling as much as 1.04% earlier in the session.
The broader Topix shed 0.54% to 1,926.37 but
hovered above Wednesday's three-month intraday low of 1,914.93.
Investors fretted over economic damages from the Omicron
coronavirus variant, with the United States becoming the latest
country to report a case.
"The market is reacting a bit emotionally to... Omicron.
Yesterday, U.S. stocks fell when the market heard about just one
person getting it in the U.S., as if that is more important than
534,000 people getting jobs according to the ADP report," said
Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ
Morgan Stanley Securities.
"But at current market levels, long-only investors are ready
to buy stocks that have good prospects," he said.
Another headwind was after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said
on Tuesday that policymakers would discuss an earlier end to the
central bank's stimulus.
Airline shares got a fresh blow after they suspended new
reservations for international flights to Japan until the end of
December at the government's request.
Japan Airlines fell 2.47%, while ANA Holdings
Train operators sagged, with East Japan Railway losing 3.47%
and Keisei Electric Railway falling 1.8%.
Mitsubishi Chemical sank 8.18%, becoming the
biggest percentage loser on the Nikkei, after investors gave a
cold shoulder to its plan to spin off its petrochemical and
Shippers rose the most among the exchange's 33
industry sub-indexes, with Kawasaki Kisen surging
11.36%, Mitsui OSK Lines adding 7.58% and Nippon Yusen
Defensive shares such as drugmakers and some growth-oriented
stocks also attracted bargain-hunting.
Ono Pharmaceutical rose 2.64%, while Astellas
Pharma gained 1.08%.
(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano and Junko Fujita; Editing by Rashmi
Aich and Subhranshu Sahu)