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Japan: Market gains on buybacks

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The Japan share market finished session higher on Monday, 23 March 2020, as investors snapped up recently battered shares on optimism that the 2020 Olympics seem unlikely to be canceled after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) flagged the possibility of a postponement of the Games for the first time. Hopes of the Bank of Japan buying Exchanged Traded Funds (ETFs) more aggressively also continued to lend support to the market. Market gains were, however, capped amid lingering fears over the economic impact of the global coronavirus outbreak. At closing bell, the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average advanced 334.95 points, or 2.02%, to 16,887.78. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange added 8.79 points, or 0.69%, at 1,292.01. Japanese markets were closed Friday due to a national holiday.

Investors both bought back issues on relief over the Olymics after oversold during recent routs and sold on the back of continued concerns over the global economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The prospect of a postponement rather than cancellation of the Toyko Games due to start in July helped Japanese shares buck the global trend.

The IOC said on Sunday that it would hold discussions, including an option of putting back the July 24 start date or even moving the Tokyo Games by a year or more, but said cancelling the event would not solve problems or help anybody. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said for the first time on Monday that the Games may need to be postponed if the event cannot be held in its "complete form" due to the pandemic. Hopes of the Bank of Japan buying Exchanged Traded Funds (ETFs) more aggressively and public pension funds rebalancing their stock portfolio following recent sell-offs also lent support to the market.

Markets in the region plummeted on recession fears on Monday as more countries around the world adopted draconian measures over the weekend to contain the spreading coronavirus.

Shares in Dentsu Group Inc jumped 8.6% on relief after the IOC suggested it was looking to delay but not cancel the Games. Shares of Dentsu, which is Japan's main marketing agency for the event, had lost almost half of their value year-to-date on worries that the event could be cancelled.

SoftBank Group shares soared 18.6% to hit its daily limit and became the most-traded stock on the bourse as the tech conglomerate said it would sell up to 4.5 trillion yen ($41 billion) in assets to fund a share buyback of up to 2 trillion yen and reduce debt.

In contrast to the market's firm tone, air transport lost 5.6% to become the worst performing sector, with ANA Holdings Inc diving 8.6%, on the back of evaporating demand amid the global coronavirus outbreak.

CURRENCY: The U. S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 102.537 after breaching the 100 level last week. The Japanese yen traded at 110.40 per dollar after weakening from levels below 108 last week.

Crude oil prices were mixed in the Asian hours on Monday as international benchmark Brent crude futures fell 2.67% to $26.26 per barrel. U. S. crude futures, on the other hand, recovered from an earlier drop to rise 0.97% at $22.85 per barrel.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 23 2020. 13:40 IST