March 9, 2020 / 3:32 AM / a month ago

Nikkei plummets to 14-month low amid heightening coronavirus fears

SYDNEY, March 9 (Reuters) - Japan’s share benchmark Nikkei tumbled to 14-month lows on Monday, on rising fear that the widening reach of the coronovirus epidemic could severely disrupt the global economy.

The Nikkei average shed 6.2% to 19,473.07 by the midday break, its lowest since Jan. 4, 2019. If sustained by the end of the day, it will be the biggest one-day fall since June 24, 2016.

The number of people infected with coronavirus topped 107,000 across the world as the outbreak reached more countries and caused more economic damage.

The broader Topix slid 6.1% to 1,382.11, touching its lowest since Nov. 11, 2016.

All of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange were trading lower, with mining, oil and coal products and iron and steel being the worst three performers.

Oil refiners and trading houses were pummelled by big falls in oil prices as Saudi Arabia plans to raise its crude oil production significantly following the collapse of OPEC’s supply cut agreement with Russia.

Major oil refiners JXTG Holdings Inc and Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd sank 7.9% and 8.1%, respectively, while Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsui & Co dropped 5.5% and 7.1%, in that order.

The safe-haven yen jumped more than 3% to a day high of 101.55 per dollar, its strongest since Nov. 9, 2016.

It created a headwind for exporters, including semi-conductor related shares that had been helped by hopes of demand related to new technologies such as 5G, with Yaskawa Electric and Murata Manufacturing diving 9.5% and 7.9%, respectively.

Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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