March 6, 2020 / 2:41 AM / a month ago

Nikkei falls to 6-month low as coronavirus spreads further

TOKYO, March 6 (Reuters) - Japanese shares dropped to a six-month low on Friday, on course for a fourth straight weekly fall, as worries deepened over the economic damage from the coronavirus that is spreading rapidly at home and abroad.

The Nikkei share average was down 2.83% at 20,726.02 by 0204 GMT, after touching its lowest since Sept. 4, 2019. The broader Topix lost 3.01% to 1,470.05. For the week, the benchmark Nikkei slid 2.1%.

More than 96% of shares on the main board dropped, hitting all the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry subindexes as the epidemic spread further in Europe and the United States, while Japan struggled to curb cases at home.

Tourism stocks took a hit after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered a two-week quarantine for visitors from China and South Korea.

H.I.S. dropped 6.9%, AirTrip fell 7.2%, and KNT-CT Holdings shed 5.1%.

TKP, which offers rental conference rooms as well as event facilitating services, declined 9.8% after the firm slashed its profit outlook on various event cancellations due to the epidemic.

Domestic demand-oriented shares that have attracted investors with relatively robust earnings prospects succumbed to profit-taking.

Central Japan Railway fell 4.6% and Recruit Holdings 4.1%

Exporters were dented as the yen strengthened to a six-month high.

Honda Motor lost 4.0% and Toyota Motor was down 3.4%.

The financial sector was hurt by plunging U.S. bond yields, which are important source of interest income amid negative interest rates at home.

MUFG, SMFG and Mizuho Holding fell 3.9%, 3.8% and 3.2% respectively.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield sank to record low of 0.858%.

Bucking the trend, Seven & i Holdings rose 5.3% after the retailer abandoned a bid for Marathon Petroleum Corp’s Speedway gas stations in the U.S. after balking at the price, as the market was concerned that the purchase would be costly. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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