TOKYO, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Japanese shares fell on Tuesday,
dragged by transport and department stores' stocks, as worries
over surging cases of COVID-19 persisted.
The Nikkei share average slipped 0.21% to 27,730.54
by 0202 GMT, setting the index to close lower on the last
trading day of the month for a 12th straight month. The broader
Topix was down 0.35% to 1,943.29.
A weak finish on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
overnight also weighed on the Nikkei.
"Shares that would benefit from an economic reopening fell
as there are still concerns about the pandemic deepening," said
Tomoichiro Kubota, senior market analyst at Matsui Securities.
"For example, we had a news about a new mutation of the
Delta variant being found in Japan. We can never fell relaxed
about the pandemic."
A Tokyo-based university found a new mutation of the Delta
variant, public broadcaster NHK reported on Monday, adding that
further research is needed to determine its infectiousness and
Severe COVID-19 cases are at record levels in Japan, leaving
many people to recuperate at home amid a shortage of
critical-care beds. Only 44% of its population has been fully
vaccinated, lagging inoculation rates of several developed
Airlines and railways dragged the
Nikkei the most, with Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings
losing 1.89% and 1.99%, respectively.
Odakyu Electric Railway, which runs railway
services and department stores, slid 4.08%. Keio and
Tobu Railway, which have similar business models as
Odakyu, fell 4.39% and 3.54%, respectively.
Other department store chains also fell, with Takashimaya
losing 2.59% and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings
Shippers and steel makers climbed.
Mitsui OSK Lines rose 3.4%, while Nippon Yusen
JFE Holdings gained 3.53% and Nippon Steel
(Reporting by Junko Fujita; editing by Uttaresh.V)