Nikkei slips from 6-month peak on virus-led slowdown fears

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TOKYO — Japan’s Nikkei share average retreated from a nearly six-month high on Thursday in sympathy with stocks globally as worries flared about slowing growth due to the fast-spreading Delta coronavirus variant.

The Nikkei slipped 0.46% to 30,041.33, from its highest close since March 18 on Wednesday at 30,181.21. It’s on course to snap an eight-day winning streak, the longest since early November.

The broader Topix sank 0.48% to 2,069.58.

An index of Asia-Pacific shares excluding Japan fell 0.88% as the Tokyo Stock Exchange ended the morning session. Overnight, the Nasdaq Composite lost the most among major Wall Street indexes.

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Markets are also still assessing last week’s data, which showed the U.S. economy created the fewest jobs in seven months in August, and wondering how the Federal Reserve will respond.

Japan’s government said on Thursday it plans to extend emergency restrictions in Tokyo and other regions in a bid to curb COVID-19 infections.

SoftBank Group was the biggest drag on the Nikkei, sliding 1.54%. The stock surged on Wednesday following a $7 billion share-swap deal with Deutsche Telekom.

Uniqlo chain operator Fast Retailing was the second-biggest drag, falling 0.84%.

Meanwhile, air transport was the worst performing subsector of the Topix, dropping 1.97%.

Japan Airlines sank 2.39% after sources said the company is looking to raise 300 billion yen to ride out anticipated funding challenges amid a continued slump in air traffic.

Rival ANA Holdings slid 1.63%.

At the other end, the electric and gas subsector was the outperformer, rising 3.55%.

Potential contender for Japan’s prime ministership Taro Kono, a well-known critic of nuclear energy, moderated his tone somewhat on Wednesday, saying he would tolerate atomic power for the time being.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings was the biggest gainer on the Nikkei, rallying 11.72%.

Chipmakers Tokyo Electron and Advantest rose 0.62% and 1.23%, respectively. (Reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)