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Nikkei tracks Wall Street rally, but markets cautious on COVID woes

08/30/2021 | 12:01am EST

TOKYO, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose on Monday, catching the tailwind from a bounce on Wall Street after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's comments at the Jackson Hole Symposium allayed market fears of a fast withdrawal of the U.S. stimulus.

While Powell's remarks provided a minor lift to Japanese stocks, the country still struggles to contain a fifth wave of coronavirus infections, with investors also maintaining a cautious stance ahead of a ruling party leadership election on Sept. 29.

The Nikkei was up 0.28% at 27,718.86 by the midday break, after the benchmark climbed as high as 27,921.55 earlier in the session. The broader Topix advanced 0.68% to 1,941.86, but down from a more than two-week high of 1,949.02 scaled earlier in the day.

"As Nikkei approached 28,000, sellers came out to take profits," Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management said.

With the pandemic and politics both clouding the outlook, "investors seem to adopt a wait-and-see stance" before pushing stocks much higher, he said.

Chair Powell appeared on Friday to strike a more dovish tone than many other officials, refraining from providing a clearer picture regarding the timing of tapering or interest rate hikes.

All three main U.S. stock indexes ended higher, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq scaling record highs.

A rally in commodities put domestic commodity-related sub-sectors in four of the top five spots in the Topix, led by a 3.63% jump for Japanese iron and steel companies.

The sea transport sub-sector was the second-best performer, climbing 2.6% and hitting its highest since 2008.

Nippon Steel was the biggest gainer on Nikkei, surging 4.59%, followed by a 4.25% climb in JFE Holdings . Metals companies Dowa Holdings, Kobe Steel , and Pacific Metals rounded out in the top five.

Shipper Nippon Yusen gained 2.28%, reaching its highest level since 2008.

Car and truck makers fared well, with Hino Motors advancing 3.68% and Mitsubishi Motors gaining 2.93%. Toyota Motor Corp. rose 0.58%, while Nissan Motor Co. jumped 1.79%.

Semiconductor shares were also trading higher, with Tokyo Electron up 0.74% and Advantest adding 0.32%.

Among decliners, Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing sank 1.6% to be the second-worst performer on the Nikkei, while SoftBank Group dropped 0.44% and Sony Group lost 0.4%. (Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

ę Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ADVANTEST CORPORATION 0.71% 9880 End-of-day quote.27.81%
DOWA HOLDINGS CO., LTD. -4.07% 4355 End-of-day quote.16.60%
FAST RETAILING CO., LTD. -1.58% 70500 End-of-day quote.-23.76%
HINO MOTORS, LTD. -5.74% 968 End-of-day quote.10.13%
JFE HOLDINGS, INC. -2.57% 1367 End-of-day quote.38.36%
KOBE STEEL, LTD. -2.75% 565 End-of-day quote.2.54%
MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORPORATION -6.13% 383 End-of-day quote.76.50%
NIPPON STEEL CORPORATION -3.27% 1747.5 End-of-day quote.31.59%
NIPPON YUSEN KABUSHIKI KAISHA 2.44% 7550 End-of-day quote.214.32%
NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. -5.63% 593.5 End-of-day quote.5.98%
PACIFIC METALS CO., LTD. -1.84% 2085 End-of-day quote.-6.50%
SOFTBANK GROUP CORP. -2.02% 6208 End-of-day quote.-22.96%
SONY GROUP CORPORATION -1.68% 13750 End-of-day quote.33.69%
TOKYO ELECTRON LIMITED -0.39% 60600 End-of-day quote.57.81%
TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION -3.01% 2012 End-of-day quote.26.43%
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