Nikkei hits 4-month low as coronavirus epidemic spreads

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
Nikkei hits 4-month low as coronavirus epidemic spreads
Credit: © Reuters.

TOKYO, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average fell nearly 5% to a four-month low on Tuesday, as investors returning after a long weekend dumped riskier assets following a spike in coronavirus infections outside China that threatened global growth.

The Nikkei share average .N225 tumbled as much as 4.5% to its lowest since late October and was last down 2.99% at 22,686.61. An immediate support for the index was seen at its 200-day moving average at 22,196.

The index showed a delayed reaction to falls in global stocks on Monday, when Japanese markets were shut for the emperor's birthday.

The broader Topix .TOPX declined 2.71% to 1,628.59, with 97% of the stocks on the main board in the red.

"In addition to rising infections, day by day more companies are refraining from events and business trips. That will surely have an impact on upcoming economic indicators," said Seiji Arai, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS ) Securities.

The coronavirus death toll climbed to seven in Italy on Monday and several Middle East countries were dealing with their first infections, feeding worries it could turn into a pandemic. operators, normally seen as defensive plays, were hit hard after the Japanese government advised citizens and firms against making unnecessary travels.

Central Japan Railway 9022.T , which runs bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka, fell 4.7% to a two-year low and East Japan Railway 9020.T dropped 1.5% to a three-and-a-half year low.

Keisei Electric Railway 9009.T dropped 5.2%.

Beer makers were also under pressure, with Asahi Group Holdings 2502.T , Kirin Holdings 2503.T and Suntory Beverage 2587.T falling between 3.7% and 5.9%.

Cinema operator Toho 9602.T fell 4.3% and advertising firm Dentsu 4324.T plunged 6% to hit a six-and-a-half year low on rising questions over whether the Tokyo Olympics will be held as planned.

The yen's sharp rebound over the past couple of sessions hit exporters. Mazda Motor 7261.T fell 4.9% and Toyota Motor 7203.T lost 2.9%.

Fujifilm Holding 4901.T bucked the trend to jump 5.6% and hit a record high after a media report that Japan is mulling use the company's anti-flu drug Avigan to treat coronavirus.

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