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

Japanese shares erase gains on lingering worries about virus

* Tracking the coronavirus: tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7

* Hopes rising for coordinated economic stimulus measures

* Investors speculate BOJ will buy more ETFs

* Coronavirus outbreak has hurt risk assets

By Stanley White

TOKYO, March 3 (Reuters) - A rally in Japanese shares faded on Tuesday as lingering worries about the domestic spread of the coronavirus overcame hopes that global central banks would coordinate to ease the economic impact of the epidemic.

The Nikkei index was up 0.02% at 21,348.15 at 0222 GMT. Japanese shares opened more than 1% higher a day 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, those gains gradually faded as traders curbed their optimism. The World Health Organisation says Japan is now one of four countries that it is most concerned about as it tracks the spread of the virus.

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

There were 88 advancers on the Nikkei index against 130 decliners on Tuesday

The largest percentage gainer in the index was drug maker Teijin Ltd, up 3.7%, followed by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd gaining 2.2% and rival drugmaker Eisai Co Ltd up by 2.1%.

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 largest percentage losses in the index were media broadcaster SKY Perfect JSAT Holdings Inc, down 4%, followed by car brake maker Nisshinbo Holdings Inc losing 3.41%, and metal processor DOWA Holdings Co Ltd down by 2.85%.

Some traders were on the sidelines before a Group of Seven conference call expected on Tuesday to discuss measures to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

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

The broader Topix index fell 0.18% on Tuesday to 1,523.07.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.8 billion, compared to the average of 1.32 billion in the past 30 days.

Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Maju Samuel

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