Tokyo stocks close lower on renewed virus jitters; Nissan dives

Reuters

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    TOKYO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Japanese shares ended lower on
Friday as renewed worries about a coronavirus outbreak in China
supported demand for the safe-haven yen and weighed on
export-oriented stocks.
    The benchmark Nikkei average  .N225  ended down 0.6% at
23,687.59, while the index lost 0.5% for the week to mark its
first weekly decline in two.
    The broader Topix  .TOPX  shed 0.6% to 1,702.87. 
    "Until Wednesday, people had been saying that you can buy
shares because the number of new cases had peaked out. The
reality seems to be quite different. An early end to this seems
improbable," said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist
at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
    In its latest update, China's Hubei province health
commission said on Friday that it had recorded 116 deaths and
4,823 new cases of the flu-like virus that emerged in the
provincial capital, Wuhan, in December.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2AE088
    Japan, which confirmed its first coronavirus death on
Thursday, is one of the worst affected of more than two dozen
countries and territories outside mainland China that have seen
hundreds of infections from the flu-like sickness. 
    (Click graphic here: https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7)
    "Investors will surely avoid Asia for the time being and
will shift funds to the U.S., geographically the most separated
from the region," he said.
    That meant more demand for the safe-haven yen  JPY=EBS  in
the currency exchange market, which serves as a headwind for
Japanese exporters' shares.
    All but six of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo Stock
Exchange were trading lower, with iron and steel  .ISTEL.T ,
land transport  .IRAIL.T  and paper and pulp  .IPAPR.T  becoming
the worst three performers.
    Nissan Motor Co Ltd  7201.T  tumbled 9.6% to its lowest in
10-1/2 years after the automaker cut its annual operating profit
forecast by 43%, hit by a slump in vehicle sales and heaping
more pressure on new management to rebuild the company after
Carlos Ghosn's ouster.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2AD2A2
    Toshiba Corp  6502.T  advanced 2.3% as the industrial
conglomerate said its operating profit jumped 662% year-on-year
in the April-December period, due to bold restructuring. 
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nXB1V4Z3WH urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nFWN2AD1PP
    Bucking overall weakness, SUMCO Corp  3436.T  surged 6.9% to
become the second-most traded issue on the main board. The
semiconductor silicon wafer maker projected its operating profit
for the January-March quarter to fall by 54.6% year-on-year but
said supply-demand conditions for 200mm wafers are tightening.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nXB1MQ0H3N

 (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Additional reporting by Hideyuki
Sano; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
 ((tomo.uetake@thomsonreuters.com; +81 3 4563 2795))

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