Japanese shares fall for fourth day as pandemic fears rise

TOKYO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average fell for a fourth day on Thursday as investors were spooked by the rapid expansion of the global coronavirus outbreak, with the United States reporting its first possible community spread.

By 0338 GMT, the Nikkei share average fell 1.84% to 22,013.23, flirting with its lowest level since mid-October.

The broader Topix lost 1.94% to 1,574.93, with 90% of main board shares in the red.

Investors are increasingly worried that the virus, which has already caused massive economic disruption in China, is becoming a pandemic.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed an infection of the new coronavirus in California in someone who had not travelled outside the United States or been exposed to a person known to have the virus.

All of the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry subindexes fell, led by a 4.5% drop in the air transport index.

ANA Holdings fell 4.8%, while Japan Airlines lost 4.3%.

Brokerage shares, highly sensitive to economic cycles, declined 3.7%, while retailers shed 3%.

The index of Mothers start-up shares dropped 3.8% to trade near its December 2018 trough.

On the other hand, food delivery services firms were one of the few bright spots.

Oisix Ra Daichi rose 3.2%, while Fundely gained 7.6% and Demae-can climbed 5.4%.

Kyorin Holdings rose almost 10% following a report that its subsidiary has developed a coronavirus test kit that can cut test time to less than 30 minutes from current 6 hours. (Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)