The Nikkei 225 stock average hit a three-month low Monday amid a global sell-off caused by fears of the coronavirus outbreak leading to a slowdown in the world economy.
The Nikkei fell 233.24 points, or 1.01 percent, to end at 22,971.94, its lowest finish since Nov. 1. On Friday, the key market gauge gained 227.43 points.
The Topix, which covers all issues on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, closed 11.78 points, or 0.70 percent, lower at 1,672.66 after rising 9.67 points Friday.
Stocks tumbled right after the opening bell, following a steep drop Friday on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering a loss of over 2 percent.
Sentiment was further dampened by the Chinese government’s announcement that the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak topped 360.
Investors rushed to discharge stocks and other risk assets, bracing for a prolonged slump in the Chinese economy and its adverse effects on Japan and other economies, brokers said.
Also pressured by the yen’s strengthening against the dollar, the Nikkei lost over 420 points within the first 10 minutes. But the market showed some resilience after the Shanghai market reopened following the extended Lunar New Year holiday.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange’s composite index got off to a miserable start with an 8.7 percent plunge, but investors were relieved because the loss was not larger than expected, brokers said.
Activities calmed down in the afternoon chiefly because “Shanghai and Hong Kong shares resisted falling further, and Dow futures rose 200 points in off-hours trading,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.
But Miura noted that the TSE will remain under selling pressure as long as the coronavirus fear persists, adding that the possibility of fresh turbulence cannot be ruled out as there is more room for U.S. shares to go down.
On the first section, falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,658 to 437 while 64 issues were unchanged. Volume dropped to 1.357 million shares from 1.376 billion Friday.
Export-oriented issues such as automaker Toyota and electronics giant Hitachi met with selling due to the stronger yen.
JXTG, Idemitsu and other oil stocks fell in a reflection of lower crude oil prices.
Airlines JAL and ANA lost ground amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak resulting in a serious contraction of air travel demand.
Among other losers were clothing store chain Fast Retailing and cosmetics maker Shiseido.
Meanwhile, electricity and gas supplies such as Tepco and Tokyo Gas attracted purchases along with other defensives.
Also on the positive side were drugmaker Eisai and mobile phone carrier KDDI.
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