Nikkei dives on virus fears, oil plunge

Japan's Nikkei share benchmark has tumbled to 14-month lows on rising fears the widening reach of the coronavirus epidemic could severely disrupt the global economy.

The Nikkei on Monday average shed 5.1 per cent to 19,473.07, its lowest closing level since January 4, 2019. It marked the biggest one-day fall since June 24, 2016.

"The markets have moved into a new phase," traders said, referring to recent developments, including multiple state of emergency declarations in the United States in response to the coronavirus outbreak and an oil price plunge.

The number of people infected with coronavirus topped 110,000 across the world and more than 3,800 have died, as the outbreak reaches more countries and causes wider economic damage.

The broader Topix slid 5.6 per cent to 1,388.97, its lowest closing since November 11, 2016.

All of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange were trading lower, with mining, banking and securities becoming the worst three performers.

Oil refiners and trading houses were pummelled by big falls in oil prices as Saudi Arabia plans to raise its crude oil production significantly following the collapse of OPEC's supply cut agreement with Russia.

Major oil refiners JXTG Holdings Inc and Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd sank 8.2 per cent and 6.6 per cent, respectively, while Mitsui & Co and Itochu Corp dropped 6.9 per cent and 5.6 per cent, in that order.

As the yield on 10-year US Treasuries plunged to a once-unthinkable level below 0.5 per cent, bank stocks were hit hard - as falling yields will have negative impact on their profits.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc dived 11.3 per cent and Mizuho Financial Group Inc slumped 13.1 per cent.

On the currency front, the safe-haven yen jumped more than three per cent to a day high of 101.55 per dollar, its strongest since November 9, 2016.

It created a headwind for exporters, including semi-conductor related shares that had been helped by hopes of demand related to new technologies such as 5G, with Yaskawa Electric and Murata Manufacturing diving 9.2 per cent and seven per cent, respectively.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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