Japan stocks lose steam but still near 14-month peak

People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. (AP)
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Updated 25 December 2019

Japan stocks lose steam but still near 14-month peak

  • The Nikkei share average ticked down 0.20 percent to 23,782.87 while the broader Topix lost 0.39 percent to 1,721.42

TOKYO: Japan’s Nikkei share average dipped in holiday-thinned trade on Wednesday, while Nissan hit an eight-year low after a top executive tasked with leading a recovery at the troubled automaker abruptly resigned just weeks into his new job.

The Nikkei share average ticked down 0.20 percent to 23,782.87 while the broader Topix lost 0.39 percent to 1,721.42, with 34 shares declining for every 10 gainers.

While the Nikkei was not far from a 14-month high of 24,091 hit last week, its rally on the back of optimism on the global economic outlook and US-China trade negotiations has petered out with many players away for holidays.

The dearth of big macroeconomic events prompted traders to focus on shares that had some news. Nissan Motor fell 3.1 percent to a low last seen in September 2011 after Jun Seki, its vice chief operating officer and a former contender for CEO, said he was leaving the firm to become the president of Nidec Corp.

His decision is seen as a potential blow to the automaker’s push to turn the corner on a scandal involving ousted former Chairman Carlos Ghosn and slumping sales.

Nidec shares gained 0.3 percent.

Shimamura tumbled 7.6 percent after the clothing retailer cut its profit estimates for the year to February by about 25 percent, citing weak sales.

Sugi Holdings lost 6.5 percent after the drugstore chain operator’s quarterly earnings fell short of strong market expectations.

Japan Post Insurance dropped 1.1 percent and its parent Japan Post Holdings ticked down 0.7 percent amid media report that the CEO of Japan Post Holdings and two top executives at Japan Post Insurance will resign this week over the improper sales of insurance policies.

Japan Post Insurance has been marred by the scandal for months and its shares have lost almost 30 percent of their value so far this year, compared to 19 percent gains in the Nikkei.

The market has shown limited response so far on a proposed overhaul of the Tokyo Stock Exchange that could set a fairly low minimum market capitalization requirement for the bourse’s planned “prime market.”

The proposal suggests a few hundred small cap shares could be excluded from the Topix index, market players said.

“The shares that are likely to be excluded are illiquid in the first place so few investors are trying to sell them now,” said Hiroyuki Fukunaga, chief executive of Investrust.


Qantas to require COVID-19 vaccine on international flights

Updated 24 November 2020

Qantas to require COVID-19 vaccine on international flights

  • Australian flag carrier would implement the measure once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public
  • Qantas has grounded more than 200 planes and fired 8,500 staff as it attempts to offset a $1.9 billion loss caused by the collapse in demand

SYDNEY: International travelers will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to fly with Australia’s Qantas, the company has said, the first major airline to suggest that such rules could become common across the industry.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said late Monday the Australian flag carrier would implement the measure once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public.
“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travelers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft,” he told Channel Nine.
“Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with COVID-19 in the market but certainly, for international visitors coming out (to Australia) and people leaving the country, we think that is a necessity.”
Joyce predicted the rule would likely become standard practice around the world as governments and airlines currently consider the introduction of electronic vaccination passports.
Another major regional airline, however, said that it was too early to comment on what travel requirements might be when a vaccine becomes widely available.
“We don’t have any concrete plans to announce at this point on the vaccine as it is still in development and will take time to distribute,” a Korean Air representative told AFP.
Vaccination entry requirements are already widely used around the world, with many countries demanding travelers show they have been inoculated against yellow fever if they are coming from regions where that disease is endemic.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced late Monday it was in the “final stages” of developing a digital health pass that it says can be used to record COVID-19 tests or vaccinations and will “support the safe reopening of borders.”
“We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation,” IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said.
Australia’s borders have effectively been closed since March to curb the spread of the virus, which has already claimed more than a million lives worldwide.
The country has even limited the numbers of its own citizens allowed to return each week, leaving tens of thousands of Australians stranded overseas.
The global airline industry has come under huge pressure from restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Qantas has grounded more than 200 planes and fired 8,500 staff as it attempts to offset a $1.9 billion loss caused by the collapse in demand for air travel.
A slew of other carriers has collapsed because of the pandemic, including Virgin Australia, Chilean-Brazilian airline LATAM and Britain’s Flybe.
The IATA said in October that after a predicted 66 percent drop in global air traffic this year, airlines’ revenues are expected to be down by 46 percent in 2021 compared to 2019.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia is seeking to create “travel bubbles” with other countries that have curbed the spread of the virus.
But the country is unlikely to fully reopen to international travelers until a vaccine is widely available.
The government also signaled in its recently released COVID-19 vaccination policy that Australia and other nations may introduce proof of inoculation as a condition of entry.
Australia has been relatively successful in containing the coronavirus, recording just over 27,800 cases and 907 deaths since the pandemic began.