SoftBank drags Japan's Nikkei lower; hopes of milder Omicron impact cap losses

·2 min read

By Junko Fujita

TOKYO, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average ended lower on Monday, dragged down by a sharp decline in SoftBank Group, but optimism that the Omicron variant might not have as much impact on the economy as feared helped the index pare some of early losses.

The Nikkei share average ended 0.36% lower at 27,927.37, after losing as much as 1.19% earlier in the session.

The broader Topix was down 0.53% at 1,947.54.

"Some investors turned optimistic that the Omicron virus would not be so threatening, as we have not heard of a large number of serious cases or deaths yet, and such investors bought shares later in the session," said Jun Morita, general manager - research at Chibagin Asset Management.

"Some investors also tend to buy shares when the Nikkei falls below the 28,000 level. Gains in U.S. futures in Asian trading hours also supported investor sentiment today."

The Nikkei was dragged down by SoftBank Group, which tanked 8.2%, losing half of its value from its year-high in mid-March, on concerns over the valuations of portfolios in which the global technology start-up investor and its Vision Fund have invested.

Didi Global, which is 21.5% owned by Vision Fund, fell more than 22% on Friday after the ride-hailing giant said it would withdraw from the New York Stock Exchange and pursue a Hong Kong listing.

Also, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued to block U.S. chip company Nvidia Corp's more than $80 billion planned acquisition of British chip technology provider Arm, which is owned by SoftBank.

SoftBank's mobile phone company SoftBank Corp edged down 0.3%, while Z Holdings, SoftBank Corp's internet business, lost 2.65%.

Other major technology shares gained, limiting losses in the Nikkei, with phone company KDDI 1.21%, robot make Fanuc 0.91% and air-conditioning maker Daikin Industries 0.75%. (Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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