Nikkei retreats as China virus spreads, energy-linked firms sag

TOKYO, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Tokyo shares dropped on Thursday, led by energy-related and cyclical stocks, as investors remained anxious about the spread of a new flu-like virus in China and awaited Japanese corporate earnings.

The Nikkei share average dropped 0.5% to 23,901.72 in mid-morning trade, giving up nearly all the gains made in the previous session, while the broader Topix fell 0.4% to 1,736.65.

A broad range of shares fell, with all but one of the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry subindexes in negative territory.

Traders said a sharp slide in commodity prices, partly due to worries about China’s virus outbreak, weighed on commodity-related and cyclical stocks.

Deaths from China’s new coronavirus rose to 17 on Wednesday, with nearly 600 cases confirmed. The outbreak has evoked memories of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003, another coronavirus which broke out in China and killed nearly 800 people in a global pandemic.

Among the Tokyo bourse’s subsectors, sea transport , mining and oil and coal products were the worst performing subindexes, declining by 2.0%, 1.9% and 1.8%, respectively.

Bucking the overall weak trend, semiconductor automated test equipment (ATE) maker Advantest jumped 4.1% after its U.S. competitor Teradyne’s fourth quarter earnings beat estimates.

In Japan, Nidec Corp and Disco Corp are due to announce their financial results for the October-December quarter later on Thursday. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)