Tokyo stocks open lower as yen ticks up

A pedestrian walks in front of an electric quotation board displaying the numbers on the Nikkei 225 index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.77 per cent or 184.53 points to 23,846.82 in early trade. — AFP pic
A pedestrian walks in front of an electric quotation board displaying the numbers on the Nikkei 225 index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.77 per cent or 184.53 points to 23,846.82 in early trade. — AFP pic

TOKYO, Jan 23 ― Tokyo stocks opened lower today with the yen edging up and risk appetite dampened by concerns about a new virus from China.  

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.77 per cent or 184.53 points to 23,846.82 in early trade while the broader Topix index was down 0.58 per cent or 10.19 points at 1,733.94.

Global equities have been roiled this week by news of the Chinese virus outbreak which has killed 17 people and infected hundreds, with fears it could cause as much economic damage as the SARS epidemic that left hundreds dead in 2003.

The World Health Organization is to meet again today to determine whether to declare a global public health emergency over the disease, which has also been detected in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.

“Over a short period, global stock markets could still be shaken up,” said chief market strategist Masayuki Kubota at Rakuten Securities.

But he added: “Personally I believe that the virus' impact on the global economy and stocks will be limited over the longer term.”

Stocks prices fell but bounced back during the 2014 outbreak of the Ebola epidemic that devastated parts of West Africa, he said.

The safe-haven yen firmed against the dollar in a negative for Japanese exporters.

The greenback was changing hands at ¥109.71 against ¥109.84 in New York yesterday afternoon.

Official data showed Japan's trade deficit expanded 34.2 per cent year-on-year in 2019 with exports to China dropping and the yen strengthening.

In Tokyo stocks trade, IT investor SoftBank Group fell 1.76 per cent to ¥4,798 and Uniqlo clothing chain operator Fast Retailing dropped 1.47 per cent to ¥62,250.

Cosmetics maker Shiseido was off 0.52 per cent at ¥7,534 on continued fears over lower demand from Chinese tourists. ― AFP

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