TOKYO, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks closed lower Thursday as worries grew about a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases a day after Tokyo reported over 1,000 new infections for the first time in two months.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average finished the day down 329.40 points, or 1.15 percent, from Wednesday at 28,279.09.
The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange ended 23.55 points, or 1.20 percent, lower at 1,939.61.
Almost every industry category lost ground except for iron and steel issues. Major declining issues were led by mining, consumer credit, and land transportation issues.
Stocks dropped throughout the day after Tokyo marked 1,149 daily COVID-19 cases Wednesday, exceeding 1,000 for the first time since May 13 and surpassing the figure of previous week for the 25th straight day.
"The number of reported daily coronavirus cases in Tokyo yesterday shocked the market, as the pace of infections increases at a much faster rate than before," said Kazuo Kamitani, a strategist in the Investment Content Department of Nomura Securities Co.
Investors are starting to be concerned about a potential pressure on hospitals leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, to begin next week, amid fears of a rise in the highly contagious Delta variant, he added.
Meanwhile, market worries of early U.S. monetary stimulus tapering were eased after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that it is "still a ways off" from the conditions that the central bank would start tapering massive bond purchases, brokers said.
Powell restated the Fed's stance in testimony to a House of Representatives committee that rapid inflation was temporary after the U.S. consumer price index for June released Tuesday recorded its quickest pace of increase in nearly 13 years.
On the First Section, decliners outnumbered advancers 1,839 to 279, while 74 remained unchanged.
Exporters such as automobile and electronic manufacturers slipped after the yen strengthened slightly overnight against the U.S. dollar.
Mitsubishi Motors dropped 2.0 percent, Nissan Motor went down 2.3 percent, while Sony Group declined 1.7 percent.
Energy-related shares slipped on the back of a decrease in crude oil futures in New York on Wednesday, as crude oil and natural gas producer Inpex declined 2.6 percent, and Eneos Holdings fell 0.9 percent.
Trading volume on the main section dropped to 971.17 million shares from Wednesday's 981.18 million shares.