Tokyo shares dip on worries over rising coronavirus cases

TOKYO, June 22 (Reuters) - Japanese shares edged lower on Monday, moving in a narrow range, as worries about the growing number of coronavirus infections across the world kept investors on edge.

The benchmark Nikkei share average retreated from early slight gains and finished 0.18% lower at 22,437.27, with 72 advancers against 147 decliners.

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the biggest rise in North and South America.

Sentiment was also weighed by iPhone maker Apple Inc announcing a temporary shutdown of its 11 stores in Florida, Arizona, South Carolina and North Carolina on Friday. .

The announcement hit Apple-related stocks in Japan, with Alps Alpine, Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd and Rohm Co Ltd falling between 0.67% and 1.25%.

While some market players said the rising daily infections in Tokyo dampened hopes of Japan’s economic recovery, others noted that its impact was small.

“It is not regarded as a huge risk, at least in Japanese markets, since Japan is still far from an outbreak that could lead to restrictions being imposed again,” said Yutaka Masushima, market analyst at Monex Securities in Tokyo.

In the broader market, Topix fell 0.23% to 1,579.09, with almost two-third of 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo exchange in negative territory.

Airlines and land transport stocks declined the most among Tokyo Stock Exchange subindexes, falling 1.65% and 1.89%, respectively.

A bright spot was Toshiba Corp, which climbed 4.9% after the company said it plans to monetise its stake in former flash memory chips unit Kioxia Holdings and return a majority of the net proceeds to shareholders.

Startup firm shares also bucked the market’s overall weakness, with Mothers Index advancing 1.28%, hitting its highest level since October 2018. (Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Amy Caren Daniel)