Business / Financial Markets | TSE DATA & REPORT

Tokyo stocks continue to fall on coronavirus fears

JIJI

Tokyo stocks fell further Wednesday, with investor sentiment dampened by fears over the global spread of the new coronavirus, which is thought to have originated in China.

The 225-issue Nikkei average on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 179.22 points, or 0.79 percent, to end at 22,426.19, after plummeting 781.33 points Tuesday.

The Topix index of all TSE first-section issues finished down 12.09 point, or 0.75 percent, at 1,606.17, after a 55.74-point tumble the previous day.

Both indexes got off to a weak start as an overnight plunge of U.S. stocks caused dismay among market players.

The tumble on Wall Street came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that it is a matter of time before the new coronavirus spreads across the United States and urged people to prepare for such a development, brokers said.

Investor sentiment was also hurt by a lower-than-expected consumer confidence index for February announced the same day by the U.S. Conference Board.

The Tokyo market continued to fall throughout most of the morning session, with the Nikkei average briefly shedding over 470 points, partly due to the South Korean government’s announcement that the number of people infected with the virus in the nation has surged to 1,146, becoming the second country after China to have more than 1,000 infection cases, brokers said.

While the Tokyo market cut losses later in the morning, thanks to buying on dips and Shanghai stocks’ resilience, both the Nikkei and Topix failed to turn to the positive side in the afternoon.

“Investors (on the Tokyo market) were pricing in the possibility of a more serious coronavirus situation,” Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co., said.

They took such moves because the virus spread further than they had expected and the infection risk had heightened in the United States as well, he added.

Meanwhile, Maki Sawada, vice president of Nomura Securities Co.’s Investment Research & Investor Services Department, said, “Market participants are now focused on whether the coronavirus outbreak will peak out” soon.

Falling issues far outnumbered rising ones 1,464 to 620, while 76 issues were unchanged in the first section.

Volume decreased to 1.68 billion shares from Tuesday’s 1.78 billion shares.

China-related issues, such as electronic device-maker Casio and electronic parts producer Taiyo Yuden, met with selling.

Airlines JAL and ANA, as well as railway companies JR Kyushu and JR West, also fell.

Inpex, JXTG and other oil names succumbed to selling pressure, against the backdrop of lower crude oil prices.

On the other hand, Canon rose 3.58 percent, thanks to the camera and office equipment-maker’s announcement Tuesday of a plan to buy back its own shares.

Among other major winners were sanitary goods maker Unicharm and Kansai Electric.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average plunged 340 points to end at 22,330.

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