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Japan shares fall as China stocks tumble on coronavirus fears

Japanese shares fell on Monday, tracking the sharp sell-off in Chinese shares on their first trading day after the Lunar New Year break, as worries mounted about the economic fallout due to the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The Nikkei index declined 1.10% to 22,956.66 by 0133 GMT, with consumer discretionary and information technology sectors leading declines. The benchmark fell as much as 1.8%, a 10-week low.

Chinese markets, which were closed since the end of trade on Jan. 23, reopened on Monday with a decline of 8.06%.
The total number of deaths from the virus jumped to 361 as of Sunday, the country’s health authority said on Monday, as several nations suspended flights, evacuated their own citizens and closed borders to Chinese nationals.

Economists have already warned the outbreak will weigh on consumer spending, tourism, and factory activity in the world’s second-largest economy, which could weigh on Japan too, as China is one of the country’s top export markets.

Meanwhile, Japan’s manufacturing activity shrank for a ninth month in January as output and new orders contracted again, pointing to further strains on the economy, a business survey showed.

There were 27 advancers on the Nikkei index against 196 decliners.

The largest percentage loser on the index was department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd, down 5.81%. The company lowered its profit forecasts on Friday after market hours, partly reflecting an expected decline in Chinese tourism to Japan.

The second-biggest decliner was auto parts and metals supplier Toyota Tsusho Corp losing 5.74%, followed by Nippon Sheet Glass Co Ltd down by 5.48%.

The largest percentage gainers on the index were processed food and healthcare company Ajinomoto Co Inc up 7.09%, followed by building materials maker TOTO Ltd gaining 3.98%, and industrial printing and electronic parts company Seiko Epson Corp up by 3.21%.

The broader Topix index fell 0.71% to 1,672.46.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.54 billion, compared with the average of 1.09 billion in the past 30 days.