Tokyo stocks turn lower on persistent coronavirus fears


Tokyo stocks turned lower Friday, as the novel coronavirus’ continued spread forced investors to refrain from active transactions.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 92.41 points, or 0.39 percent, to end at 23,386.74, after advancing 78.45 points Thursday.

The TOPIX index of all TSE first-section issues closed down 0.48 point, or 0.03 percent, at 1,674.00, in a turnaround from a 2.62-point rise the previous day.

The market got off to a weaker start, in the wake of European and U.S. stocks falling Thursday on renewed concerns over the adverse economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Stocks attracted some buybacks until midmorning, but they became mixed later, with players retreating to the sidelines amid the unabated virus scare, brokers said.

The market was pressured by selling of stocks sensitive to economic prospects as well as moves to take profits ahead of the three-day weekend in Japan.

But at the same time, it was underpinned by buying of export-oriented stocks thanks to the yen’s falls against the dollar and other major currencies, they added.

“Investors kept their guard up against the epidemic expecting more people to be found infected with the deadly virus during the long weekend,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.

The yen’s drop, to 10-month lows against the dollar, failed to buoy the overall market, as it was caused by “unfavorable selling” induced by fears of the coronavirus outbreak dealing a severe blow to the Japanese economy, Miura also said.

“Some foreign investors have shied away from Japanese shares since the government’s release of far weaker-than-expected gross domestic product data for October-December,” said an official at a foreign-affiliated securities firm.

On the TSE’s first section, falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,094 to 946 while 120 issues were unchanged. Volume decreased to 1.15 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.17 billion shares.

Cyclicals such as shipping firms and paper and pulp producers met with selling.

Nippon Steel extended its losing streak to a 10th session.

Among other losers were clothing store chain Fast Retailing and job information service firm Recruit Holdings

On the other hand, Tokio Marine and other insurers went up.

Fujifilm Holdings rose on media reports that its unit has started the development of a coronavirus diagnostic agent.

Also on the positive side were technology investor SoftBank Group and automaker Toyota.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average fell 220 points to end at 23,290.



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