• Jiji


The benchmark Nikkei stock average extended losses Thursday as concerns over a global coronavirus economic slump spread among investors.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange tumbled 259.89 points, or 1.33 percent, to end at 19,290.20, after falling 88.72 points Wednesday.

The Topix index of all first-section issues lost 11.83 points, or 0.82 percent, to close at 1,422.24. It edged up 0.56 point the previous day.

The Tokyo market opened sharply lower in the wake of U.S. and European stock sell-offs brought on by a slew of unwelcoming economic news, including devastating U.S. retail sales in March, a free fall in crude oil prices and dismal earnings reports by U.S. firms including Goldman Sachs.

Stocks were also driven down by weak Japanese data, notably a dive in tourist numbers and a precipitous fall in department store sales, with the Nikkei nose-diving by nearly 400 points at one point in the morning, brokers said.

After the initial sell orders were executed, however, the market resisted falling further thanks to buying on speculation that the Bank of Japan again moved to buy exchange-traded funds, they added.

The record-setting month-on-month drop of 8.7 percent in March U.S. retail sales, in particular, “fueled U.S. recession fears and led to the early morning tumble in the Tokyo market,” Hirohumi Yamamoto, strategist at Toyo Securities Co., said.

Some investors retreated to the sidelines to see China’s real gross domestic product data for January-March, due out on Friday, he added.

On the TSE’s first section, rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,587 to 534 while 48 issues were unchanged. Volume shrank to 1.298 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.489 billion shares.

Export-oriented issues such as automaker Toyota and technology and entertainment giant Sony were major victims of the heightened concerns over the U.S. economy.

Megabank group Mitsubishi UFJ, insurer Dai-ichi Life and other financials bled as did their U.S. peers the previous day.

Oil stocks including JXTG and Idemitsu suffered from the crude oil market slump.

Among other losers were clothing store chain Fast Retailing and industrial robot producer Fanuc.

Meanwhile, frozen food makers such as Nichirei, power suppliers including Kansai Electric and other defensives attracted purchases as more people start working from home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Also on the positive side were technology investor SoftBank Group and internet services firm CyberAgent.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average fell 340 points to end at 19,240.

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