March 3, 2020 / 6:44 AM / a month ago

Japan stocks end lower as fading hopes for G7 action undermine rally

* Tracking the coronavirus: tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7

* Investors speculate BOJ will buy more ETFs

* Coronavirus outbreak has hurt risk assets

By Stanley White

TOKYO, March 3 (Reuters) - Japanese shares closed lower on Tuesday due to concerns that Group of Seven countries may not announce a detailed coordinated response to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus epidemic.

The Nikkei index ended down 1.22% at 21,082.73 after a G7 source told Reuters the bloc is drafting a statement but it currently does not include any mention of new fiscal spending or coordinated interest rate cuts.

The G7 is expected to release the statement on Tuesday or Wednesday as policymakers struggle to respond to the global spread of a novel flu-like virus.

Japanese stocks rallied on Monday after the Bank of Japan said it would take necessary steps to stabilise markets and revealed it bought a record amount of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) linked to Japanese shares.

However, shares were unable to sustain those gains on Tuesday. The World Health Organization (WHO) saying Japan is now one of four countries that it is most concerned about also dented sentiment.

Infections in Japan have topped 200, with six deaths. That excludes more than 700 cases and five more deaths from the quarantined cruise liner.

“I remain worried about downside risks for Japanese stocks because the virus is still spreading in Japan,” said Yutaka Masushima, market analyst at Monex Securities in Tokyo.

“There are expectations on the policy front, but if this is not backed up with big fiscal stimulus and monetary easing, then this is unlikely to alter the course of the economy.”

There were 16 advancers on the Nikkei index against 209 decliners.

The largest percentage losers were metal processor DOWA Holdings Co Ltd down 4.71%, followed by media broadcaster SKY Perfect JSAT Holdings Inc losing 4.43%, and auto maker Nissan Motor Co Ltd down by 3.78%.

The largest percentage gainers were drugs maker Teijin Ltd up 4.68%, followed by materials producer Asahi Kasei Corp gaining 1.09% and car maker Suzuki Motor Corp up by 1.02%.

Teijin gained after the Japanese Association for Infectious Diseases said three coronavirus patients treated with a drug made by the company showed signs of improvement.

The virus that emerged in China late last year has spread to 66 countries and killed more than 3,000 people.

The broader Topix index fell 1.36% to 1,505.12.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 1.76 billion, compared with the average of 1.32 billion in the past 30 days. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Maju Samuel and Uttaresh.V)

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