The benchmark Nikkei stock average sank close to a three-year low below 19,000 Thursday, with investors sharply growing risk-averse in the wake of the World Health Organization declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and U.S. President Donald Trump delivering a disappointing speech on the fight against the virus.
The 225-issue Nikkei average listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange tumbled 856.43 points, or 4.41 percent, to end at 18,559.63, the lowest closing since April 20, 2017. It plunged 451.06 points Wednesday.
The Topix index of all TSE first section issues finished 57.24 points, or 4.13 percent, lower at 1,327.88, after giving up 21.56 points the previous day.
Investors moved to dump stocks from the outset, in view of the Dow Jones industrial average and other key U.S. market indexes continuing to spiral down Wednesday with the coronavirus scare raised further by the WHO chief’s characterization of the global virus outbreak as a pandemic at a news conference, brokers said.
The Tokyo market accelerated its downswing in midmorning trading, after Trump announced a 30-day ban on all travel from Europe excluding Britain and other antivirus measures in a televised speech.
Trump’s failure to mention more details of a proposed stimulus package to mitigate the economic impact of the raging coronavirus fueled fears over a global slump, brokers said.
The spreading risk-off mood also caused steep drops in the dollar against the yen and U.S. stock index futures in off-hours trading, which added to downward pressure on Tokyo stocks.
The Nikkei’s loss widened to 1,076.79 points in the late morning. In the afternoon, however, the market showed some resilience.
“The announcement of the travel restrictions swelled concerns that business activities between the United States and Europe will be badly affected,” said Hiroaki Kuramochi, chief market analyst at Capital Partners Securities Co.
Kuramochi also pointed out that plans to defer tax payments and implement a payroll tax relief mentioned by Trump rather disappointed investors because “they had already been reported and were nothing new.”
“No one can predict when the market will bottom out,” an official of an online securities firm said.
On the TSE’s first section, falling issues overwhelmed rising ones 2,117 to 39 while nine issues were unchanged. Volume ballooned to 2.583 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.996 billion shares.
All of the 33 subsector price indexes went down.
Heavy selling continued to hit shipping firms, of which Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha dived 12.34 percent and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha 7.94 percent.
JXTG Holdings Inc., Idemitsu Cosmo Energy and other oil stocks kept bleeding on a crude oil market slump.
Financials including megabank group Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and insurer Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. were drove down by fears over falls in interest rates dampening their earnings.
Fast Retailing Co. and technology investor Softbank Group Corp. were sold as well.
Meanwhile, the handful of winners included mobile phone carrier NTT Docomo Inc.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average plummeted 1,010 points to end at 18,360.
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