Business / Financial Markets

Nikkei plunges 774 points as coronavirus fears build anew

Jiji

Tokyo stocks took a 774-point dive Monday, battered by renewed fears worldwide about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange shed 774.53 points, or 3.47 percent, to end at 21,530.95, closing below the 22,000 mark for the first time in over two weeks. On Friday, the key market gauge lost 167.43 points.

The Topix index of all TSE first-section issues closed down 39.90 points, or 2.54 percent, at 1,530.78, after an 18.24-point drop the previous trading day.

Despite the U.S. market’s rebound on Friday thanks to a better-than-expected University of Michigan consumer confidence index for June, the Tokyo market opened lower and fluctuated in negative territory throughout the morning.

Market players took to heart a warning by Jay Butler, deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Friday that the United Sates may need to reintroduce social distancing measures if the number of coronavirus cases rises dramatically, brokers said.

Investor sentiment was further dampened by climbing infections in some states, as well as Beijing’s declaration of “wartime emergency mode” in response to a spike coronavirus cases in the Chinese capital.

On the other hand, the underside of the Tokyo market was supported by buying on dips.

But a fall in Dow Jones industrial average futures in off-hours trading weighed down the market in the afternoon, causing the Nikkei to fall rapidly and give up over 700 points.

“Market players were reluctant to engage in active buying due to fears over a second wave of novel coronavirus infections around the world,” Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co., said.

Ichikawa noted that investors were also discouraged to find that the number of new coronavirus infections in Tokyo exceeded 40 on Sunday for the first time since May 5.

“Hopes for early recoveries in the world economy and corporate earnings withered away,” an official at a bank-affiliated securities firm said.

Losing issues overwhelmed winners 1,880 to 255 in the TSE’s first section, while 34 issues were unchanged. Volume decreased to 1.363 billion shares from Friday’s 1.904 billion shares.

Electronics manufacturer Hitachi, technology and entertainment giant Sony and other export-oriented issues met with selling against the backdrop of uncertainties over a global economic turnaround.

Character goods maker Sanrio plunged 11.15 percent, as its operating profit for the year that ended in March failed to beat the market consensus.

Mitsui E&S plummeted 9.91 percent in response to the heavy machinery maker’s announcement that it will sell its destroyer manufacturing and repair operations for the Defense Ministry to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Among other major losers were clothing store chain Fast Retailing and chip-making gear manufacturer Tokyo Electron.

On the other hand, Ishikawa Seisakusho and other defense-related issues were higher, after Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, said Saturday that it was time for the country to part ways with South Korea.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key September contract on the Nikkei average fell 790 points to end at 21,350.

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