Business

Nikkei dives to six-month low on new overseas sell-offs due to COVID-19

KYODO

Tokyo shares sank on Friday, pulling the benchmark 225-issue Nikkei average down to a six-month low following overnight selloffs on Wall Street and in Europe sparked by the spread of the coronavirus.

Fears about the economic fallout pushed all industrial categories into negative territory. Steel-makers were the biggest underperformers amid mounting concern that a drop in factory activity will hurt demand, while securities houses and construction issues also suffered.

The Nikkei lost 579.37 points, or 2.72 percent, from Thursday’s close to end at 20,749.75, its lowest since Sept. 4.

The broader Topix index of all first-section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 44.25 points, or 2.92 percent, lower at 1,471.46.

In currency markets, the dollar sank to a six-month low in the upper ¥105 range on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut interest rates again this month after making an emergency cut of 0.5 point earlier this week.

Tokyo shares met heavy selling pressure from the outset as sentiment was dented by steep falls in U.S., European and later Asian equities amid concerns over the outbreak, which has infected over 95,000 people in more than 80 countries and territories, with the death toll topping 3,500.

Makoto Sengoku, a market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, said the shares’ poor performance reflects Japanese manufacturers’ high dependency on China’s virus-crippled supply chains.

Travel restrictions placed on Japanese by an increasing number of countries are also expected to slow the activities of Japanese firms that do business abroad, brokers said.

“Japanese shares may fall further as there’s no apparent sign of upturn in the situation,” Sengoku added.

On the first section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 2,114 to 40, with nine unchanged.

Among steel-makers, Nippon Steel Corp. skidded ¥88.0, or 7.5 percent, to ¥1,089.50; Kobe Steel sank ¥29, or 7.3 percent, to ¥369; and JFE Holdings Inc. lost ¥69 yen, or 7.2 percent, to ¥889.

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