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Tokyo: Nikkei closes down 4.5% as Japan virus fears grow

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[TOKYO] Japanese stocks sank more than 4 per cent on Thursday on profit-taking from a three-day rally, while traders were also spooked after Tokyo's governor warned of a possible expansion of the coronavirus in the capital.

The Nikkei 225 index, which advanced 18 per cent from Monday to Wednesday, fell 4.51 per cent, or 882.03 points, to 18,664.60.

The broader Topix index was down 1.78 per cent, or 25.30 points, at 1,399.32.

The market started sharply lower as investors cashed in on their recent gains, brokers said.

Sentiment also deteriorated after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Wednesday urged residents to stay home this weekend, warning of a possible "explosion" of the coronavirus after a record 41 new cases were recorded.

Ms Koike said the Japanese capital, so far spared the draconian measures seen in other major global cities, was at a "critical stage" in containing the virus that has confined one third of the planet to their homes.

"Koike's remarks threw cold water on investors," said Daiwa Securities chief technical analyst Eiji Kinouchi.

"Major cities around the world, notably New York, have been targeted by the new coronavirus and Tokyo alone can hardly be an exception," Mr Kinouchi told AFP.

AFP