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Tokyo’s Nikkei closes down more than 2% on China virus fears

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Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index dropped more than two percent Monday on concerns over the potential impact of a new coronavirus that has killed at least 80 people in China.

The Nikkei 225 index lost 2.03 percent, or 483.67 points, to close at 23,343.51, while the broader Topix index fell 1.61 percent, or 27.87 points, to 1,702.57.

“Worries over the coronavirus have been strengthening, as it has spread to France, Nepal, Australia, and Malaysia, with investors nervously watching reports about the increasing number of patients,” Okasan Online Securities chief strategist Yoshihiro Ito said in a commentary.

The dollar fetched 109.07 yen in Asian afternoon trade, against 109.23 yen in New York on Friday.

“It’s hard to buy actively as the outlook for the outbreak remains uncertain,” said Toshikazu Horiuchi, a broker at IwaiCosmo Securities.

“While watching the impact of the virus, investors will also pay attention to corporate results” as Japan’s major firms will release their nine-month results starting this week, he told AFP.

In Tokyo, airlines were among the losers due to concerns over the outbreak, with Japan Airlines diving 3.89 percent to 3,134 yen and ANA Holdings losing 3.01 percent to 3,441 yen.

Cosmetics maker Shiseido was off 5.48 percent at 7,060 yen on continued fears over lower demand from Chinese tourists.

Market heavyweight Fast Retailing, the Uniqlo casual wear operator which has a number of outlets and supplying partner plants in China, was down 5.66 percent at 58,460 yen.

Automakers were also lower, with Honda, which has a plant in the quarantined city of Wuhan where the virus emerged, trading down 1.68 percent at 2,910.5 yen, and Toyota down 1.52 percent at 7,752 yen.

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