February 28, 2020 / 3:42 AM / a month ago

Tokyo shares slide to 5-1/2 month low as pandemic anxiety intensifies

TOKYO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Japanese shares plummeted on Friday to their lowest in five and a half months amid a global market sell-off and mounting concerns over the coronavirus epidemic.

The benchmark Nikkei average tumbled 3.5% to 21,184.77, its lowest level since early September, by the midday break. The index was down 9.4% for the week, the biggest in four years.

The Nikkei’s volatility index, a measure of investors’ volatility expectations based on option pricing, spiked to as high as 39.09, its highest level since June 2016.

The broader Topix shed 3.2% to 1,517.76 by the break, again its lowest since early September.

In a sign of broad selling, all of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange were trading lower, with real estate , mining and information and communication being the worst performers.

Semiconductor and other cyclical shares were hit hard, with Tokyo Electron Ltd and Screen Holdings Co Ltd declining 4.6% and 5.2%, respectively. Honda Motor Co Ltd lost 3.9%.

Electronic parts makers Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd and TDK Corp dropped 4.2% and 4.1%, respectively.

Bucking the overall weakness, childcare and after-school daycare centre operator Like Kids Inc jumped 13.9% after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe late Thursday urged Japan’s entire school system, from elementary to high schools, to close from Monday until spring break late in March to help contain the virus outbreak.

Oriental Land Co Ltd ended the morning session 0.9% higher on the day but may face a selloff in afternoon trade as the amusement park operator said it will close Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea from Saturday until March 15. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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