May 20, 2020 / 2:48 AM / 3 months ago

Japan stocks rise on hopes for economic restart

TOKYO, May 20 (Reuters) - Japanese shares gained on Wednesday, buoyed by hopes that the government would allow economic activity to resume in response to a decline in new coronavirus infections.

The Nikkei index climbed 0.91% to 20,619.80 at 0153 GMT, approaching a two-and-a-half month high, with shares in the healthcare and technology sectors leading the advance.

Japan’s government is expected to lift its state of emergency for Osaka and Kyoto in western Japan on Thursday after the rate of coronavirus infection fell below the government’s numerical target, domestic media have reported.

The number of infections in Tokyo and its surrounding areas is still above the government’s threshold, but growth in new cases is on a clear downtrend, suggesting the government may also lift the state of emergency for the country’s capital.

Sentiment also got a boost after the Bank of Japan said it would hold an emergency meeting on Friday to decide the details of a loan programme for small firms.

There were 130 advancers and 90 decliners on the Nikkei index on Wednesday.

The biggest percentage gainer in the index was electronics maker Furukawa Electric Co Ltd, which surged 17.49% after posting earnings above expectations, according to Refinitiv data.

Sony Financial Holdings Inc was the second-largest gainer, jumping 7.75%, followed by electronic parts maker Fujikura Ltd, which was 5.43% higher.

Sony Financial’s parent, Sony Corp, said it will take full control of the company through a tender offer. The largest percentage losers in the index were chemical products maker Denka Co Ltd, down 4.01%, followed by Fujifilm Holdings Corp, which lost 3.1%, and Sony Corp , 2.91% lower.

Shares of Fujifilm fell after a report that clinical trials of its anti-flu drug Avigan showed it was not affective in treating the coronavirus.

The broader TOPIX index rose 0.48% to 1,493.13.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.36 billion, compared to the average of 1.37 billion in the past 30 days. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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