TOKYO, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Japanese shares ended higher on
Monday as upbeat earnings from shippers and other cyclical firms
countered concerns about the fast-spreading Delta coronavirus
variant, which threatens a fragile recovery in the economy.
The Nikkei average ended 1.82% higher at 27,781.02,
erasing losses made on Friday, when it marked its lowest close
since early January.
The broader Topix gained 2.05% to 1,940.05, its
highest close since July 14.
Shippers led gains, adding 9.2% to hit a 13-year
high, following strong earnings from Mitsui OSK. The
sub-index has gained 18.2% over the past two sessions.
Mitsui OSK shares jumped 10.6%, while rival Kawasaki Kisen
soared 9.1% and Nippon Yusen added 8.5%.
Automobile parts maker Denso jumped 5.0%, extending
its gains to a second session after reporting strong earnings.
NEC rose 4.0% after the electronics and IT company
posted a surprise return to profits in the April-June quarter.
Misumi Group gained 8.8% to hit a record high,
after the trading firm specialised in factory automation and
machine parts reported brisk earnings.
With about 40% of Topix companies having reported their
earnings, operating profit grew about 240% from a year earlier,
analysts at Okasan Securities wrote. Of those, 211 firms posted
positive surprises, compared with 76 with negative ones, they
Among decliners, Kose tumbled 12.1% after the
cosmetic firm's results for April-June fell far short of market
West Japan Railway lost 3.9% after the railway
company posted disappointing earnings, underscoring the damage
from the pandemic to the sector.
East Japan Railway and Central Japan Railway
fell 1.7% and 1.3%, respectively, following their
Recovery in travel demand looks set to be delayed further as
the nation's coronavirus cases are soaring at an unprecedented
pace due to the spread of Delta variant.
"In the short term, the COVID-19 weighs on the market as the
government expanded state of emergency and cases in Tokyo hit
record high," said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex
(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Rashmi Aich and