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Japanese Market Extends Losses

The Japanese stock market is extending losses on Thursday from the previous session following the weak cues overnight from Wall Street as concerns about new lockdowns due to the surge in coronavirus cases offset upbeat news regarding a coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

Investor sentiment was also dampened after daily coronavirus cases in Japan exceeded 2,000 on Wednesday, hitting a new high and pushing up hospitalizations.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 107.70 points or 0.42 percent to 25,620.44, after touching a low of 25,532.48 earlier. Japanese shares closed notably lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing are declining more than 1 percent each. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron and Advantest are losing more than 2 percent each.

The major exporters are mostly higher. Panasonic is advancing more than 1 percent, Canon is rising 0.5 percent, and Sony is adding 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.3 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining more than 1 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging up 0.1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is adding 0.7 percent, while Toyota is down 0.2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, GS Yuasa and Cyberagent are rising more than 3 percent each, while Yamato Holdings is advancing almost 3 percent.

Conversely, Nippon Steel is losing more than 3 percent, while Shinsei Bank, Terumo Corp., Alps Alpine, Takara Holdings and Asahi Group are all lower by more than 2 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 103 yen-range on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Wednesday in a late-day sell-off amid renewed concerns about new restrictions and lockdowns following the recent surge in coronavirus cases. A number of states are imposing new restrictions due to the spike in cases, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing that public schools in the city will be closed as of tomorrow. Concerns about the economic impact of the lockdowns overshadowed more upbeat news regarding the coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The Dow tumbled 344.93 points or 1.2 percent to 29,438.42, the Nasdaq slid 97.74 points or 0.8 percent to 11,801.60 and the S&P 500 slumped 41.74 points or 1.2 percent to 3,567.79.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both climbed by 0.5 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Wednesday amid expectations that OPEC+ will extend its current production cuts further into 2021, or even increase the cuts. WTI crude for December settled at $41.82 a barrel, up $0.39 or 0.9 percent from the previous close.

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