The Japanese stock market is plunging on Friday after U.S. stocks fell into correction territory overnight amid fears over the rapid spread of the coronavirus globally. In the U.S., California Governor Gavin Newsom said 33 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and the state is currently monitoring at least 8,400 others.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked all elementary, junior high and high schools nationwide to close from Monday until April, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Investors also turned cautious as they digested a raft of local economic data.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 731.50 points or 3.33 percent to 21,216.73, after falling to a low of 21,182.69 earlier. Japanese stocks ended lower for a fourth straight session on Thursday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank is lower by more than 4 percent and Fast Retailing is declining more than 3 percent. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is losing more than 4 percent and Advantest is down more than 3 percent.
The major exporters are lower on a stronger safe-haven yen. Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 4 percent, Panasonic is falling almost 4 percent, Sony is lower by almost 3 percent, and Canon is declining 2 percent.
Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is losing almost 4 percent and Toyota Motor is declining more than 3 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex and Japan Petroleum are losing almost 4 percent each after crude oil prices fell for a fifth session overnight.
Among the other major losers, Unitika is falling almost 6 percent, while Recruit Holdings and KDDI Corp. are lower by more than 5 percent. Chiba Bank, Kikkoman Corp. and Shin-Etsu Chemical are all losing almost 5 percent.
In economic news, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in Friday's preliminary reading that industrial production in Japan climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent on month in January. That beat forecasts for an increase of 0.2 percent following the 1.2 percent gain in December.
The jobless rate in Japan came in at a seasonally adjusted 2.4 percent in January. That exceeded expectations for 2.2 percent, which would have been unchanged from the previous month.
Overall consumer prices in the Tokyo region were up just 0.4 percent on year in February. That was shy of expectations for a gain of 0.5 percent and down from 0.6 percent in January.
The total value of retail sales in Japan was up a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent on month in January. That exceeded expectations for a decline of 0.1 percent following the 0.2 percent gain in December.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 109 yen-range on Friday.
On Wall Street, stocks plummeted on Thursday, failing to recover from an early sell-off amid ongoing worries about the rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Adding to the concerns, the CDC confirmed a coronavirus infection in an American who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with the disease. Additionally, California Governor Gavin Newsom said 33 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and the state is currently monitoring at least 8,400 others.
The Dow plunged 1,190.95 points or 4.4 percent to 25,766.64, the Nasdaq dove 414.30 points or 4.6 percent to 8,566.48 and the S&P 500 plummeted 137.63 points or 4.4 percent to 2,978.76.
The major European markets also moved sharply lower on Thursday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index plummeted by 3.5 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 3.3 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
Crude oil prices plunged sharply on Thursday, extending losses to a fifth session amid concerns about the outlook for energy demand. WTI crude for April ended down $1.64 or about 3.4 percent at $47.09 a barrel, the lowest finish since January 2019.