Japanese shares slip as chip stocks take hit from outlook worries

TOKYO, Aug 12 (Reuters) – Japanese shares fell on Thursday, after four straight sessions of gains, as chip-related shares were hit by concerns that their best days may be over as supplies are coming back.

The country’s worsening coronavirus infections hit shares of travel-related sectors anew, while falling support for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga raised more concerns about political stability ahead of an election expected later this year.

The tech-heavy Nikkei share average fell 0.20% to 28,015.02, with its early gains blocked by resistance from a downward-sloping trendline at around 28,270.

The broader Topix fared less badly, ending down 0.03% at 1,953.55.

“The Nikkei still appeared to be kept in a downward trend, reflecting concerns about the tech sector while the Topix is essentially moving sideways,” said Fumio Matsumoto, chief strategist at Okasan Securities.

“It’s not like markets expect Japan’s COVID-19 situation to deteriorate sharply. But it is hard to see it improving quickly either,” he added.

Market players said chip-related shares were hit by a Morgan Stanley report that called on investors to be cautious on the sector, saying some parts of the memory chip market could be peaking out.

Sumco lost 2.7%, Advantest shed 2.2% and Screen Holdings fell 1.8%.

Worries about China’s recent crackdown on the tech sector continued to weigh on SoftBank Group, which holds a big stake in Alibaba and some other Chinese tech firms.

SoftBank fell 0.9% to hit a nine-month closing low.

Rakuten Group, a mobile phone services and online shopping mall operator, lost 6.4% after its earnings missed estimates, while Toshiba fell 4.1% on reporting mediocre results.

TSE land transport index, mainly composed of train operators, was the worst performing industry subindex with a fall of 0.94%, followed by a 0.75% slip in airline companies

On the other hand, SMC Corp rose 3.7% after the industrial equipment maker raised its annual operating profit forecast by 15.6%.

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