Tokyo stocks fell slightly Thursday as concern over a resurgence of coronavirus infections in Japan offset bargain-hunting in technology issues.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 21.81 points, or 0.07 percent, from Wednesday at 29,708.98. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 15.57 points, or 0.79 percent, lower at 1,951.86.
Decliners were led by air transportation, textile and apparel, and bank issues.
The US dollar stayed in the upper 109 yen zone 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 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 109.50-51 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 $1.1882-1883 and 130.11-15 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.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond was unchanged from Wednesday's close at 0.095 percent.
In the Tokyo stock market, airlines, railways and department store operators were weak throughout the day, hit by growing worries that the pandemic resurgence could subject more areas in Japan to stronger anti-virus measures.
But the losses were gradually trimmed, with the Nikkei bouncing back at one point in the afternoon, as technology issues and some index heavyweights reversed their earlier weak tone.
The governor of Tokyo has decided to take stronger measures to combat the rebound of COVID-19 cases, while Osaka Prefecture declared a medical state of emergency on Wednesday as the western metropolis' health care system has faced severe strain.
"Investors have priced in the infection situation to some extent in Tokyo and Osaka, but concerns are now growing that the spread of the virus would expand to other Japanese regions," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.
Miura predicted that shares are prone to be sold also because investors are watching whether companies start to have more cautious views about their earnings for the fiscal year from April, given that there were hopes for a strong recovery.
On the First Section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,883 to 285, while 22 ended unchanged.
Among air and land transportation issues, Japan Airlines slid 79 yen, or 3.3 percent, to 2,348 yen, and West Japan Railway sagged 167 yen, or 2.8 percent, to 5,884 yen.
Technology issues bucked the downward trend on bargain-hunting, with Tokyo Electron rising 600 yen, or 1.2 percent, to 49,850 yen, and Taiyo Yuden gaining 10 yen, or 0.2 percent, to 5,630 yen.
Hitachi Metal jumped 88 yen, or 4.9 percent, to 1,901 yen after its parent company Hitachi decided to advance talks with a consortium led by US private equity fund Bain Capital to sell its subsidiary Hitachi Metals, sources familiar with the matter Thursday.
Trading volume on the main section rose to 1,134.46 million shares from Wednesday's 1,083.80 million shares.