July 2, 2020 / 7:18 AM / a month ago

Nikkei gains on hopes of economic rebound; Mothers start-up index dives

SYDNEY, July 2 (Reuters) - Japanese shares climbed a tick higher to end firmer on Thursday on subtle signs that the global economy was emerging from the coronavirus lockdown, though investors maintained a cautious stance after Tokyo reported a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The benchmark Nikkei average edged up 0.1% to 22,145.96, partially clawing back from the previous session’s losses of 0.8%, with cyclical stocks lifting the index.

Soichiro Matsumoto, chief investment officer Japan at Credit Suisse, called the current Nikkei’s level of around 22,000 “a pretty good level” for many investors. He expects Tokyo shares to remain range-bound, saying there’s not much upside left in the medium term.

Takashi Maruyama, head of equities at Fidelity International Japan, sees that the downside is also limited as “there is no alternative to stocks” for many institutional investors.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes ended higher on Wednesday as increasing optimism for a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine eased concerns that another round of business lockdowns was likely.

On the domestic front, however, Japan’s capital city of Tokyo confirmed more than 100 coronavirus infections, the highest daily tally in two months, which dampened investor sentiment.

The broader Topix rose 0.3% to 1,542.76, with about three-thirds of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange finishing higher.

Highly cyclical air transport, sea transport and transport equipment indexes were among the top performers on the main bourse.

Toyota Motor advanced 1.8%, one day after U.S. electric carmaker Tesla overtook the company to become the highest-valued automaker in terms of market capitalization.

Bucking the overall firmness, the index of Mothers start-up market slumped 5% to hit its lowest closing level since May 28, with biotech AnGes nose-diving 11.9%.

Large-cap stocks outperformed the small-cap shares, with the Topix Large index gaining 0.4% and the Topix Small falling 0.8%. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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