TOKYO, April 2 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks fell for a fourth straight session on Thursday, as investors were spooked by comments that the Asian country was on the verge of a coronavirus crisis and by a warning from U.S. President Donald Trump of a “painful” two weeks ahead.
The Nikkei index was down 0.49% to 17,977.62 by 0220 GMT, shedding 24% so far this year.
Experts warned on Wednesday that Japan was on the brink of a crisis as virus cases rise relentlessly around the nation, increasing the chance of lockdowns and other severe restrictions on personal movement that will hurt economic activity.
Trump said, “We’re going to have a couple of weeks, starting pretty much now, but especially a few days from now, that are going to be horrific.”
More U.S. states are ordering residents to stay at home to slow the virus’ spread, pointing to a prolonged slowdown.
Weighing further on sentiment was data showing U.S. manufacturing activity hit its weakest in 11 years last month, revealing the full extent to which the pandemic was damaging global growth.
On Thursday, there were 43 advancers on the Nikkei index against 181 decliners.
The biggest percentage losers in the index were consumer credit company Credit Saison Co Ltd, down 7.18%, followed by department store operator J.Front Retailing Co Ltd , losing 6.77%.
Subaru Corp fell 6.38% after the auto maker said it would suspend global production.
The largest percentage gainers in the index were car manufacturer Suzuki Motor Corp, up 3.24%, followed by parcel delivery firm Yamato Holdings Co Ltd, gaining 3.1%, and non-life insurance company Sompo Holdings Inc , up by 2.87%.
The broader TOPIX index fell 0.92%.
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.67 billion, compared to the average of 2.07 billion in the past 30 days.
The coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year, has turned into a global pandemic that has claimed more than 40,000 lives and paralysed large swathes of the global economy. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)