Nikkei dives in global rout amid COVID-19 fears
The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange dived 1,128.58 points, or 6.08 percent, to end at 17,431.05, a level unseen since Nov. 11, 2016. On Thursday, the index lost 856.43 points.
The Topix index of all TSE first section issues finished down 66.18 points, or 4.98 percent, at 1,261.70 after a drop of 57.24 points the previous day.
Tokyo stocks fell almost across the board, after the U.S. Dow Jones industrial average plunged by about 10 percent overnight, its biggest one-day percentage drop since the Black Monday crash of October 1987.
Pessimism was fueled by a steep slide in U.S. stock index futures in off-hours trading, with a telephone conference between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump providing no reassurance to the market, brokers said.
After the Nikkei temporarily lost as much as over 1,800 points to breach the 17,000 line, the index cut part of its losses in the afternoon, helped by a sharp rebound in U.S. stock index futures.
“The Tokyo market was swayed by futures action, while foreign investors were reducing their holdings of risk assets amid a continued sell-off,” said Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan Inc.
“The market is pricing in all negative factors in sight, as investors believe that business sentiment will inevitably worsen amid the spread of the coronavirus outbreak across the globe,” another brokerage official said.
Falling issues far outnumbered rising ones 2,099 to 64 in the TSE’s first section, while three issues were unchanged.
Volume increased to 3.459 billion shares from Thursday’s 2.583 billion shares, due partly to buying and selling linked to Friday’s special quotation fixing to settle March index futures and option contracts.
All of the 33 subsector price indexes fell.
Real estate firms met with heavy selling due to concerns over a possible drop in office demand if teleworking spreads amid the coronavirus crisis. Mitsubishi Estate Co. dropped 9.23 percent and Mitsui Fudosan Co. fell 10.67 percent. Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. plunged 13.38 percent.
Japan Airlines Co. tumbled 12.51 percent, extending its losing streak to a seventh session, after announcing an additional reduction in its domestic flight services amid weak demand due to the virus outbreak.
Among other losers were clothing store chain Fast Retailing Co. and mobile phone carrier KDDI Corp.
A handful of winners included drugmaker Astellas Pharma Inc.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average tumbled 1,350 points to end at 16,790.