March 9, 2020 / 8:18 AM / 20 days ago

Nikkei dives to 14-month trough on virus fears, oil plunge

SYDNEY, March 9 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share benchmark tumbled to 14-month lows on Monday, on rising fears that the widening reach of the coronavirus epidemic could severely disrupt the global economy.

The Nikkei average shed 5.1% to 19,473.07, its lowest closing level since Jan. 4, 2019. It marked the biggest one-day fall since June 24, 2016.

“The markets have moved into a new phase,” traders said, referring to recent developments, including multiple state of emergency declarations in the United States in response to the coronavirus outbreak and an oil price plunge.

The number of people infected with coronavirus topped 110,000 across the world and more than 3,800 have died, as the outbreak reaches more countries and causes wider economic damage.

The broader Topix slid 5.6% to 1,388.97, its lowest closing since Nov. 11, 2016.

All of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange were trading lower, with mining, banking and securities becoming the worst three performers.

Oil refiners and trading houses were pummelled by big falls in oil prices as Saudi Arabia plans to raise its crude oil production significantly following the collapse of OPEC’s supply cut agreement with Russia.

Major oil refiners JXTG Holdings Inc and Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd sank 8.2% and 6.6%, respectively, while Mitsui & Co and Itochu Corp dropped 6.9% and 5.6%, in that order.

As the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries plunged to a once-unthinkable level below 0.5%, bank stocks were hit hard - as falling yields will have negative impact on their profits.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc dived 11.3% and Mizuho Financial Group Inc slumped 13.1%.

On the currency front, the safe-haven yen jumped more than 3% to a day high of 101.55 per dollar, its strongest since Nov. 9, 2016.

It created a headwind for exporters, including semi-conductor related shares that had been helped by hopes of demand related to new technologies such as 5G, with Yaskawa Electric and Murata Manufacturing diving 9.2% and 7.0%, respectively. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Alex Richardson)

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