Tokyo stocks close lower on concerns for global economy

Tokyo stocks ended lower Wednesday, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index closing at a four-month low, as concerns the spread of the COVID-19 virus could hamper the global economy dented investor sentiment, reports Xinhua.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average dropped 179.22 points, or 0.79 percent, from Tuesday to close the day at 22,426.19, marking its lowest closing level since Oct. 15. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile, lost 12.09 points, or 0.75 percent, to finish at 1,606.17.

Tokyo stocks came under pressure from the get-go as the market inherited a weak lead from U.S. and European markets overnight on concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, local brokers said.

They added, however, that the market gained some support in the afternoon by Shanghai stocks staging a rebound at one point, while investors here speculated the Bank of Japan (BOJ) may have bought exchange traded funds (ETFs) as part of its easing measures.

"After seeing Shanghai equities recovering, some speculators bought back Tokyo shares perceiving their reasonable prices," Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., was quoted as saying. "But as the virus spread has entered a new phase any increase in infection cases would further dent stock markets," Miura said.

Airlines lost ground on concerns over the spread of the virus, with Japan Airlines falling 1.9 percent, while ANA Holdings lost 1.5 percent.

Stocks related to the Olympics retreated on speculation a continued spread of the virus could lead to the Games being cancelled despite the government saying otherwise, with Dentsu Group Inc., Japan's largest advertising agency, losing 0.7 percent. Audio and visual services provider Hibino, meanwhile, tumbled 7.4 percent.

By the close of play, all industry categories closed in negative territory, with mining, real estate and air transportation-linked issues comprising those that declined the most. Issues that fell outpaced those that rose by 1,464 to 620, on the First Section, while 76 ended the day unchanged.

On the main section on Wednesday, 1.677 billion shares changed hands, dropping from Tuesday's volume of 1.778 billion shares. The turnover on Wednesday came to 3,009.6 billion yen (27.30 billion U.S. dollars).