Japanese shares drop on fears of coronavirus forcing Tokyo into lockdown

  • Reuters
Japanese shares drop on fears of coronavirus forcing Tokyo into lockdown

SYDNEY, March 30 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks retreated on Monday as the coronavirus outbreak worsened over the weekend and more countries imposed or tightened lockdown measures, raising fears that Tokyo could also go into its first-ever lockdown.

The benchmark Nikkei average .N225 dropped 1.6% to 19,084.97 after Friday's 3.9% gain.

The Nikkei's volatility index .JNIV , a measure of investors' volatility expectations based on option pricing and considered to be a fear gauge, rose 4.2% to 54.98, but still off a nine-year peak of 60.86 hit on March 16.

More than 662,700 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 30,751 have died, according to a Reuters tally. President Donald Trump on Sunday extended his stay-at-home guidelines until the end of April, dropping his earlier plan to get the economy up and running by mid-April after a top medical adviser said more than 100,000 Americans could die. authorities warned that lockdown measures could last months, while Japan was set to expand its entry ban to include citizens travelling from the United States, China, South Korea and most of Europe. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday promised an unprecedented package of steps, saying the country was close to a national emergency as infections surged. broader Topix .TOPX shed 1.6% to 1,435.54.

All but six of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange were in negative territory, with air transport .IAIRL.T , banking .IBNKS.T and insurance .IINSU.T being the worst performers.

Blue-chip firms weren't exempt from the selloff, with Toyota Motor Co Ltd 7203.T falling 3.3% as the automaker said the group's global production in February slid 12.2% year-on-year. Corp 6758.T shed 3.8% after the company said the scale of the impact from the coronavirus outbreak would be large enough to eliminate the entire upward revisions to its annual earnings forecasts made in February. oil refiners JXTG Holdings Inc 5020.T and Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd 5019.T sank 3.9% and 4.5%, respectively, as U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 fell below $20 a barrel in early trade on Monday. O/R

As Tokyo moves closer toward a potential citywide lockdown over the pandemic, shares of food makers bucked the overall weakness.

Nichirei Corp 2871.T climbed 4.1%, Yamazaki Baking Co Ltd 2212.T added 3.8%, and Toyo Suisan Kaisha Ltd 2875.T gained 6.3%.

Fujifilm Holdings Corp 4901.T jumped 6.0% as Abe said in a news conference on Saturday that the government would push for approval of the company's Avigan anti-flu drug, also known as favipiravir, as a potential coronavirus treatment. the Nikkei's heavyweight SoftBank Group 9984.T slumped 5.0% after OneWeb, a satellite operator that SBG backs, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to pursue a sale of its business amid the virus outbreak. said suspected buying by the Bank of Japan as well as passive investors' buying to reinvest expected dividend payments capped losses in the afternoon session.

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