Tokyo stocks dropped Thursday morning amid growing fears that a resurgence of coronavirus cases in Japan could hit corporate earnings and slow an economic recovery.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average shed 110.68 points, or 0.37 percent, from Wednesday to 29,620.11. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 15.81 points, or 0.80 percent, at 1,951.62.
Decliners were led by air transportation, textile and apparel, and bank issues.
The US dollar hovered in the upper 109 yen range after minutes of the Federal Reserve's March policy meeting showed Wednesday the central bank will keep interest rates low for a long time.
At noon, the dollar fetched 109.74-75 yen compared with 109.78-88 yen in New York and 109.79-80 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The euro was quoted at $1.1870-1870 and 130.26-30 yen against $1.1867-1877 and 130.26-36 yen in New York and $1.1878-1879 and 130.41-45 yen in Tokyo late Wednesday afternoon.
Shares were weak from the opening, with airlines, railways and department store operators hit by growing worries that the pandemic resurgence could subject more areas to stronger anti-virus measures, with people again urged to refrain from nonessential outings.
Japan reported Wednesday more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases, the highest level in over two months, with Osaka Prefecture confirming a record 878 cases and Tokyo logging a two-month high of 555 in what experts fear is a sign of a fourth wave of infections in the country.
"The coronavirus situation is weighing on the normalization of economic activities (in Japan)," Maki Sawada, a strategist at Nomura Securities' Investment Content Department, said, referring to the resurgence of virus infections.
Sawada added the current situation will also prompt industries to offer cautious earnings outlooks for the current fiscal year starting April.
Major Japanese firms closed their books at the end of March and will release their earnings results later this month.
Among air and land transportation issues, Japan Airlines slid 78 yen, or 3.2 percent, to 2,349 yen, and West Japan Railway sagged 144 yen, or 2.4 percent, to 5,907 yen.
Department store operators Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings shed 26 yen, or 3.4 percent, to 732 yen, and Takashimaya lost 33 yen, or 2.8 percent, to 1,127 yen.
On the First Section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,882 to 261, while 47 ended the morning unchanged.