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Tokyo stocks open slightly lower with eyes on virus

Tokyo stocks opened slightly lower Thursday, as expectations for the impact of a massive Japanese economic package were offset by worries over the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 0.07 percent or 14.50 points at 19,338.74 in early trade, while the broader Topix index slipped 0.18 percent or 2.54 points at 1,422.93.

But trade seemed to have no clear direction, with the Nikkei index hovering above and below the closing price of the previous session.

"Japanese stock trade is in a state of tug-of-war between the impact of the state of emergency (declared this week) and expectations for the effects of the economic package," Okasan Online Securities chief strategist Yoshihiro Ito said in a note.

In addition to rallies in US stocks, the lifting of the lock-down in Wuhan, China where the virus originated would "support manufacturers as it means recovery in production lines," the brokerage firm said separately in a note earlier.

The dollar fetched 108.89 yen in early Asian trade, against 108.90 yen in New York.

Uniqlo casual wear operator Fast Retailing was down 0.15 percent at 46,350 yen ahead of its earnings report due late in the day.

Chugai Pharmaceutical was down 2.34 percent at 13,340 yen after a report said it will launch a clinical study of its Actemra, medicine to treat rheumatism, for repurposing for the treatment of COVID-19.

Convenience store and supermarket operator Seven and i Holdings was down 0.47 percent at 3,527 yen ahead of its earnings report due later in the day.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended up 3.4 percent at 23,433.57.