February 26, 2020 / 3:39 AM / a month ago

Tokyo shares at over 4-month lows as pandemic fears intensify

TOKYO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Japanese shares extended losses on Wednesday to their lowest in more than four months, as a spike in coronavirus infections beyond mainland China threatened to damage global economic growth, forcing investors to dump risky assets.

The benchmark Nikkei average tumbled as much as 2.1% to 22,127.42, its lowest since Oct. 15, breaking below its immediate support level of 200-day moving average at 22,196.

The index ended the morning session down 1.1% at 22,357.39 following Tuesday’s sharp decline of 3.3%.

The outbreak has claimed over 2,700 lives in China and spread to dozens of other countries.

Adding to the fears was an alert from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday warning Americans to prepare for the spread of coronavirus in the United States, signalling a change in tone for the Atlanta-based U.S. health agency.

The broader Topix also shed 1.1% to 1,600.93, by the midday break, after falling to its lowest in more than four months during the morning session.

All but one of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange were trading lower, with mining, real estate and air transport being the worst three performers.

Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd lost 3.5% after Bloomberg News reported a person infected with the new coronavirus had been at Shin Marunouchi Building, one of the landmark buildings that the company developed in Tokyo’s premier business district.

The virus has also hit some Olympics-related stocks on mounting worries it could lead to cancellation of the 2020 Summer Games scheduled to start in Tokyo in July.

Dentsu Group Inc dropped 1.8%, sliding for a sixth day to a seven-year low, amid concerns the Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled and hurt Japan’s largest ad agency.

The Nikkei’s volatility index, a measure of investors’ volatility expectations based on option pricing, spiked as much as 21.8% to 29.74, its highest level in 14 months.

Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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