TOKYO, April 8 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks fell on Thursday
as concerns about a spike in domestic coronavirus infections and
a potential return of restrictions on economic activity prompted
investors to lock in profit on recent gains.
The Nikkei 225 Index was down 0.38% at 29,618.93, as
of 0203 GMT, while the broader Topix declined 0.85% to
The governor of Tokyo is considering adopting emergency
measures in response to a sudden increase in coronavirus
infections and the spread of a new variant of the virus,
according to domestic media.
The western city of Osaka is also set to declare a medical
emergency after its number of new infections rose to a record
high, which has sparked alarm among public health officials.
Reduced operating hours for restaurants and shops intended
to slow the infection rate could hamper economic growth. In
addition, more analysts are starting to express concern about
Japan's slow pace of vaccination against the coronavirus.
"Japanese equities may slow down relative to other markets,"
Masayuki Kichikawa, chief macro strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui
Asset Management Co said.
"Markets are placing a lot of emphasis on the size of fiscal
stimulus and the vaccination rate. More restrictions would be a
negative factor because that would delay a recovery in services
The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Takeda
Pharmaceutical Co Ltd down 2.85%, followed by
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc losing 2.41%.
In the positive territory, Hitachi Metals Ltd rose
4.36% after the Nikkei newspaper reported that a group led by
Bain Capital has emerged as the preferential bidder for a 53%
stake in the company worth around $7.3 billion.
Shares in parent company Hitachi Ltd fell 1.03%.
Toshiba Corp rose 1.21% a day after receiving a $20
billion offer from CVC Capital Partners to take it private. In
the previous session, Toshiba's shares surged by their daily
limit to the highest in more than four years.
(Reporting by Stanley White, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)