Japan shares fall as third wave of COVID-19 outbreak hurts sentiment

TOKYO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks fell for a third consecutive session on Friday as a rise in new domestic coronavirus infections to record highs fuelled concerns that officials will place new restrictions on business activity.

The Nikkei 225 index ended down 0.42% at 25,527.37. The broader Topix erased losses to end 0.06% higher at 1,727.39.

The Nikkei rose 0.6% for the week after hitting a 29-year high on Tuesday as progress in developing a coronavirus vaccine lifted equities.

The optimism, however, faded quickly as a sharp increase in coronavirus cases suggested that Japan’s economy could weaken before a vaccine becomes widely available.

Authorities in the United States and Europe are placing new restrictions to slow another wave of virus infections, which is an additional reason to pocket profits on the rally in global stocks from March lows, analysts say.

“The main focus is on the renewed spread of the coronavirus,” said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Securities.

“Stocks had risen to pretty good levels, but now there is incentive to take some money off the table.”

The underperformers among the Topix 30 were Daikin Industries Ltd, down 2.64%, followed by Tokio Marine Holdings Inc, losing 2.52%.

Air conditioner maker Daikin took a hit after the Nikkei newspaper reported that electric vehicle maker Tesla was considering making air conditioners for homes.

The stocks that gained the most among the top 30 core Topix names were SoftBank Group Corp, up 2.62 %, followed by Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd, up 1.48%.

Hitachi Metals Ltd jumped 9.88% after Nikkei reported that its parent Hitachi Ltd had begun accepting bids for the metals company.

There were 100 advancers on the Nikkei index against 119 decliners.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.92 billion, compared with the average of 1.15 billion in the past 30 days. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Devika Syamnath)