Tokyo stocks fell further on Friday as market jitters grew on news of further coronavirus infections in Japan, including the first fatal case.
The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 140.14 points, or 0.59 percent, to end at 23,687.59, after shedding 33.48 points Thursday.
The Topix index of all TSE first-section issues fell 10.21 points, or 0.60 percent, to end at 1,702.87 after losing 5.84 points the previous day.
Investor sentiment was dampened by the health ministry’s announcement Thursday that a Japanese woman in her 80s who died was later found to have the virus, becoming Japan’s first confirmed COVID-19 fatality, brokers said.
Reports of coronavirus patients with no recent history of travel to China or contact with those recently in China, including the woman, also weighed on the market, the brokers said.
After an early morning tumble, both indexes showed resistance to downward pressure thanks to the firmness of Chinese stocks and moved narrowly on the negative side in the afternoon, they said.
The brokers added that many investors adopted a wait-and-see stance before the weekend in Japan and the three-day weekend in the United States.
Hirohumi Yamamoto, a strategist at Toyo Securities Co., said market players are beginning to react less strongly to news about the epidemic than when the virus reports first came out.
Still, Maki Sawada, vice president of Nomura Securities Co.’s Investment Research & Investor Services Department, warned that the market “is expected to continue moving nervously until market players become confident that the worst is over, based on their experiences” with the SARS outbreak from 2002 to 2003.
On the TSE’s first section, falling issues far outnumbered rising ones 1,394 to 674 while 92 issues were unchanged. Volume increased to 1.351 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.235 billion.
Nissan tumbled 9.64 percent as the automaker’s operating profit for April-December 2019 and operating profit outlook for the full year ending next month fell short of the market consensus.
Beverage maker Asahi Group dropped 1.88 percent. Its lower-than-expected operating profit and net profit for the full year to December caused disappointment.
Among other major losers were drug store operator Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings and industrial materials maker Showa Denko.
Silicon wafer producer Sumco jumped 6.86 percent thanks to its better-than-expected operating profit for the year to December.
Sanitary goods maker Unicharm and cybermall operator Rakuten also went up.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average fell 160 points to end at 23,630.