February 6, 2020 / 7:19 AM / in 18 days

Foreigners step up selling in Japanese stocks as virus spreads

Feb 6 (Reuters) - Foreign investors stepped up selling in Japanese equities last week due to jitters over a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

They sold a net 782.85 billion yen ($7.12 billion) of Japanese stocks, including cash equities and futures, in the week ended Jan. 24, the highest since early August 2019, data from Japanese stock exchanges showed.

Investors sold a net 542.7 billion yen worth of derivatives, and 240.15 billion yen in cash markets, according to the data.

Last week, confirmed cases of the coronavirus surpassed the SARS epidemic of 2002, and curbed appetite for risk assets globally.

The death toll from the virus jumped to 563 people in mainland China as of Wednesday, the health authority said.

Last week, the Topix index and the Nikkei index both shed over 2.5% and marked their biggest weekly decline since early May 2019.

This week, both the indexes have rebounded as China announced a cut in tariffs on some imports from the United States and unveiled a slew of policy measures to restore investor confidence in the wake of the virus outbreak.

Solid U.S. economic data, including a jump in private-sector payrolls, also helped the rally.

Meanwhile, Japanese investors purchased 32.6 billion yen worth of overseas equities last week, their fifth successive weekly net buying, finance ministry data showed. ($1 = 109.9400 yen)

Reporting by Gaurav Dogra and Patturaja Murugaboopathy; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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