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Tokyo stocks down with markets nervous on virus impact
A businessman is reflected in an electronic board displaying Japan's Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, April 18, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Tokyo stocks down with markets nervous on virus impact

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed lower on Thursday as another spike in the death toll from new coronavirus in hard-hit Hubei province weighed on market sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.14 percent, or 33.48 points, to 23,827.73, while the broader Topix index was down 0.34 percent, or 5.84 points, at 1,713.08.

Chinese authorities said the number of fatalities and new cases from China’s coronavirus outbreak soared on Thursday, with 242 more deaths and nearly 15,000 extra patients in Hubei as authorities changed their threshold for diagnosis.

The announcement from China “is weighing on the sentiment of Japanese investors”, Ryuta Otsuka, chief strategist at Toyo Securities, told AFP.

“Perception among Japanese investors about ramifications of the new coronavirus on the economy seems to be fundamentally different from foreign investors.” The weak performance in the Tokyo bourse, despite rallies in global markets including Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and China’s Shanghai indexes in the previous session, “is probably because investors here are talking about short-term impact” rather than long-term, he added.

“Japanese investors appear more sensitive,” said Toshikazu Horiuchi, a broker at IwaiCosmo Securities, told AFP.

“And they are also worried about the impact on supply chains.” The Dollar fetched 109.84 Yen in Asian afternoon trade, compared with 110.09 yen in New York.

In Tokyo, SoftBank Group plunged 5.09 percent to 5,458 yen after it said net profit fell nearly 70 percent for the nine months to December.

Major blue-chip exporters lost ground as Nintendo dropped 0.91 percent to 40,190 yen with Toyota down 0.46 percent at 7,758 yen.

Nissan was down 1.54 percent at 568.5 yen ahead of its third-quarter earnings report due later Thursday.

The automaker said late Wednesday it has filed a civil lawsuit seeking 10 billion yen ($90 million) from former chairman Carlos Ghosn for what it called “years of his misconduct and fraudulent activity”.