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Japan stocks fall on grim earnings season; Toyota bucks…

By Stanley White

TOKYO, Aug 6 – Japanese shares fell on Thursday as investors stayed away from risky bets amid a largely downbeat earnings season, though Toyota rose after unexpectedly avoiding a loss last quarter.

The Nikkei index ended down 0.43% at 22,418.15, with technology and consumer staples companies falling the most.

The broader Topix fell 0.31% to 1,549.88.

A series of disappointing earnings and forecasts from companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic have weighed on the Japanese market for the past few sessions.

Some analysts argue that the decline in corporate profit has bottomed out and earnings will gradually recover.

Others point to the likelihood of additional U.S. economic stimulus and work on developing a COVID-19 vaccine as reasons not to be overly pessimistic.

“The earnings from Japan so far have been really bad, but this is the bottom and earnings are not going to get any worse,” said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Securities.

“Any recovery in earnings, regardless of how gradual it is, will be better than this crop of earnings reports.”

The underperformers among the top 30 core Topix were Honda Motor Co Ltd down 6.31%, followed by East Japan Railway Co losing 2.47%.

Honda fell after the automaker forecast a 68% decrease in annual operating profit and posted its worst quarterly operating loss since the March 2009 quarter.

The stocks that gained the most among the Topix 30 names were Toyota Motor Corp up 2.29%, followed by commodities trader Mitsui & Co Ltd.

Toyota reported a 13.9 billion yen ($131.73 million) operating profit for the three months ended June, which was its worst in nine years but still better than expectations for a 179 billion yen loss.

There were 100 advancers in the Nikkei index against 122 decliners.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 1.08 billion, compared with the average of 1.2 billion in the past 30 days. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Aditya Soni and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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