Nikkei falls on first trading day of 2021

Tokyo's benchmark stock index finished lower on the first trading day of 2021 after Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said the government is considering declaring a state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures.

A New Year market-opening ceremony was scaled down as a precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic, with only about 40 people taking part.

Financial Services Minister Aso Taro spoke at the event. He said he hopes to leverage the international appeal of the nation's personal financial assets totaling more than 18 trillion dollars.

Aso said, "We hope to strategically promote reforms to make the Tokyo market more attractive and create an environment that will draw overseas businesses and highly skilled foreign workers."

The Nikkei 225 started Monday's session higher, but it shed more than 400 points at one stage after reports the government was eyeing an emergency declaration due to the spread of the coronavirus.

The Nikkei Average ended the day at 27,258, down 0.68 percent from the last trading day of 2020, when it marked the highest year-end close in 31 years.

The index took a nosedive last March due to the pandemic. But it has been recovering, supported by stimulus and monetary easing measures as well as vaccine expectations.