Japanese shares fall on worries domestic lockdowns are looming

Reuters

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    TOKYO, March 26 (Reuters) - Japanese shares took a tumble on
Thursday following three days of massive gains after a rise in
domestic coronavirus cases stoked worries of tougher domestic
restrictions for social distancing.
    The Nikkei share average  .N225  dropped 3.8% to 18,803.29.
It had risen 18% in the last three sessions, including an 8%
gain the previous day - its biggest since 2008.
    The rally was driven by a range of factors, including buying
from domestic public accounts and hopes of big U.S. stimulus,
which all prompted sellers to unwind their positions.
    But the sentiment soured after Tokyo's governor late on
Wednesday asked residents to avoid non-essential outings through
until April 12, warning of the risk of an explosive rise in
infections in Japan's capital.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2BI5Z1
    The Japanese government was preparing to set up a special
headquarters on coronavirus as early as Thursday afternoon, a
step that could set the stage for declaring a state of emergency
over the outbreak, Kyodo news agency reported, after Tokyo saw a
sharp rise in cases this week.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2BJ0U6
    "The rise in infections in Tokyo is making lockdowns in
Japan realistic, forcing markets to re-assess the impact of the
virus," said Hideyuki Suzuki, head of investment research at SBI
Securities.
    "Upcoming economic data will likely show an unprecedented
level of devastation but it is not clear if that has been priced
in at the recent bottom of the market."
    In a sign of things to come, trading house Marubeni  8002.T 
lost 12.9% after it predicted a record net loss of 190 billion
yen ($1.7 billion) for the year ending March, as the epidemic
drives an unprecedented oil price slide and falls in other
commodities.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2BI23H
    Marubeni's warning hit its rival companies, such as
Mitsubishi Corp  8058.T , Mitsui Co  8031.T  and Itochu
 8001.T , which fall 3.1%, 4.6% and 4.1%, respectively.
    SoftBank Group  9984.T  slumped 7.9% after Moody's
downgraded it by two notches to "Ba3", prompting the tech
conglomerate to request a withdrawal of the rating.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2BI35L
    The broader Topix  .TOPX  fell 2.2% to 1,392.77.

 (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
 ((hideyuki.sano@thomsonreuters.com; +81 3 4563 2768;))

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