TOKYO, July 30 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed at its lowest since the start of the year on Friday as spiking COVID-19 cases, some earnings disappointments and a decline in U.S. stock futures dented investor sentiment.
The Nikkei ended 1.8% lower at 27,283.59, its biggest decline since June 21 and the lowest close since Jan. 6. It dipped as far as 27,272.49 earlier in the session.
For the month, the Nikkei slumped 5.24%, its worst performance since the coronavirus-induced market meltdown in March last year, after recording an 11th straight decline on the final trading day of the month.
Meanwhile, the broader Topix sank 1.37% to 1,911.62, registering a 2.19% monthly fall.
S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 0.8%, while Nasdaq e-minis slumped 1.3%.
Japan’s government on Friday proposed extending the state of emergency through Aug. 31 for Tokyo and some other prefectures, as COVID-19 cases spike to record highs.
Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co. led declines on the Nikkei, plunging 10.77%, on lower-than-expected earnings posted after the bell on Thursday. Astellas Pharma tumbled 8.81% after reporting financial results midday.
Pharmaceutical companies led declines among Topix subsectors, sliding 3.23%.
Toyota group-supplier JTEKT shed 8.91% after reporting earnings midday, while Fujitsu dropped 8.86% and Fuji Electric declined 8.46% after reporting their financial results late Thursday.
“The earnings weren’t that bad, but in terms of the outlook, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of confidence,” which is weighing on stocks, said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.
“The market is wary that the Nikkei could break below 27,000.”
Among shares gaining after reporting earnings, online retailer Zozo rallied 8.13%, sensor-maker Keyence rose 4.74% and advertiser Denso added 2.96%.
The Nikkei’s biggest gainers were all shippers, with Mitsui OSK Lines jumping 12.33%, Nippon Yusen up 6.91% and Kawasaki Kisen advancing 6.44%.
Shippers were also the biggest winners among Topix subsectors, rallying 8.19%, while rubber firms managed to eke out a 0.07% gain.
(Reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)