Tokyo stocks open lower on coronavirus fears

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.55 per cent or 128.66 points to 23,394.58 in early trade while the broader Topix index was down 0.52 per cent or 8.70 points to 1,679.07. — Reuters pic
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.55 per cent or 128.66 points to 23,394.58 in early trade while the broader Topix index was down 0.52 per cent or 8.70 points to 1,679.07. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, Feb 18 ― Tokyo stocks opened lower today as investors assessed the economic impact of the new virus outbreak from China in thin trade because of a market holiday in the US.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.55 per cent or 128.66 points to 23,394.58 in early trade while the broader Topix index was down 0.52 per cent or 8.70 points to 1,679.07.

There has been a slowdown in new infections in China in recent days but traders are fretting over the global economic impact of the health crisis.

“The market is likely to be weighed down due to uncertainty over how much the new pneumonia will spread and its impact on corporate earnings and the economy,” Okasan Online Securities said.

The death toll from the virus leapt beyond 1,800 in China, with 93 more people dying in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.

There were 1,807 new cases ― a decline on the previous day ― bringing the total to 72,300 across the country.

Investor worries eased slightly after the Chinese central bank's announcement on measures aimed at cushioning the world's second-largest economy against the fallout, said Okasan Online Securities.

Yesterday, the People's Bank of China offered 200 billion yuan (RM120.3 billion) of one-year medium-term loans at a 3.15 per cent interest rate, 10 basis points lower than previously.

It also added 100 billion yuan to money markets through reverse repurchase agreements.

In individual stocks trade in Tokyo, Apple suppliers fell as the US tech giant said it did not expect to meet revenue guidance for the quarter to March as the virus hits both production and demand in China.

Sony, which provides Apple with key imaging components, lost 1.65 per cent to ¥7,329.

Electronic parts maker Murata Manufacturing plunged 2.92 per cent to ¥6,145.

Nissan was down 0.73 per cent at 499.1 per cent before a shareholders' meeting to approve its new leadership.

The dollar was changing hands at ¥109.82 in Asia early Tuesday compared with 109.93 in European trade Monday.

The US financial markets were closed Monday for a public holiday. ― AFP

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