Tokyo stocks keep dropping on coronavirus concerns
The Nikkei 225 average fell 164.35 points, or 0.69 percent, to end at 23,523.24. On Friday, the key market gauge plunged 140.14 points.
The Topix, which covers all first-section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, closed 15.10 points, or 0.89 percent, lower at 1,687.77 after losing 10.21 points Friday.
Stocks nose-dived as soon as the market opened and quickly extended losses, with the Nikkei surrendering more than 350 points in the first 15 minutes.
A flood of media reports about an unabated increase in the number of carriers of the mysterious coronavirus across the globe fueled investor fears about a resulting global economic slump, brokers said.
Sentiment was further chilled by the government’s announcement before the opening bell that Japan’s price-adjusted real gross domestic product fell an annualized 6.3 percent quarter on quarter in October-December, marking the first negative growth in five quarters.
But after the early morning sell-off, the market showed some resilience thanks to buying induced by rises in Shanghai and Hong Kong stocks.
The initial downswing was accelerated by programmed selling “automatically triggered by the worse than expected headline GDP number,” said Hirohumi Yamamoto, strategist at Toyo Securities Co.
“Thin trading with participation by few nonresidents during the three-day weekend in the United States for Presidents Day on Monday helped the Tokyo market sink further,” he added.
Still, the market was able to avoid heavy losses thanks to the stability of the dollar-yen pair, Hiroaki Kuramochi, chief market analyst at Capital Partners Securities Co., said.
On the first section, falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,819 to 294, while 47 issues were unchanged. Volume decreased to 1.165 billion shares from 1.351 billion Friday.
Financials, such as mega-bank group Mitsubishi UFJ and insurer Tokio Marine, met with selling on a drop in U.S. long-term interest rates.
Toyota, Nissan and other automakers were dumped due to the dismal GDP reading igniting concerns over their sales in the October-December quarter.
Among other losers were clothing store chain Fast Retailing and technology and entertainment giant Sony.
Meanwhile, oil wholesaler Idemitsu attracted purchases thanks to better than expected April-December earnings.
Also on the positive side were industrial robot producer Fanuc and technology investor SoftBank Group.