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Japan's Topix ends lower as COVID-19 fears outweigh gains in chip-related shares

·2 min read

TOKYO, April 19 (Reuters) - Japan's Topix changed course to close lower on Monday, while the Nikkei ended little changed, as concerns around a resurgence of COVID-19 outweighed gains from chip-related shares.

The broader Topix slipped 0.22% to close at 1,956.56, while the Nikkei 225 Index trimmed gains to end 0.01% higher at 29,685.37.

Japan and the United States agreed last week to cooperate on investment in semiconductor supply chains in response to a global shortage of chips, which is seen as positive for Japanese chemical and industrial companies, analysts said.

But, risks related to the rapid spread of COVID-19 remain. The governor of Tokyo is considering another state of emergency in response to a steady increase in virus cases. And, analysts said, Japan's slow vaccinations' pace is also a negative factor.

"There are several reasons that overseas investors can't decide whether to sell or buy Japanese stocks," said Takatoshi Itoshima, strategist at Pictet Asset Management.

"It is not still clear the impact of the outcome of the summit talks between the U.S. and Japan. We do not know how the Tokyo Olympices will be held, and vaccine rollouts extremely slow here and the virus is spreading again."

Sumco, up 5.66%, was the largest percentage gainer on the Nikkei, followed by Yamato Holdings gaining 3.32% and Seiko Epson up 2.98%.

The largest percentage loser was Shiseido, down 4.13%, followed by ANA Holdings down 3.64% and Toho that fell 3.38%.

Toshiba Corp fell 4.35% after the Nikkei reported that private equity firm CVC Capital Partners will delay submitting a formal proposal to buy the Japanese industrial group.

(Reporting by Stanley White and Junko Fujita; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Uttaresh.V)