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Asian Shares Fall Amid Thin Holiday Trading


Asian stocks fell on Monday amid mounting concerns about the potential impact of a new coronavirus that has killed at least 80 people in China. Trading volumes were thin as several markets were closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Japanese shares tumbled as the coronavirus spread to France, Nepal, Australia, and Malaysia. Investors also shifted their focus to corporate earnings results that will be out this week.

The Nikkei 225 Index plunged 483.67 points, or 2 percent, to 23,343.51, while the broader Topix closed 1.6 percent lower at 1,702.57.

Market heavyweight Fast Retailing plummeted 5.7 percent, Fanuc declined 2.1 percent and SoftBank Corp slumped 4.1 percent.

Automaker Nissan Motor shed 3 percent, Mazda Motor lost 2.2 percent, Honda Motor fell 1.7 percent and Toyota Motor gave up 1.5 percent as the yen jumped on safe haven demand. Honda has a plant in the quarantined city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged.

Japan Airlines lost 3.9 percent and ANA Holdings gave up 3 percent on concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. Cosmetics maker Shiseido plunged 5.5 percent on fears of lower demand from Chinese tourists.

The Australian markets were closed due to the public holiday in lieu of Australia Day, which fell on Sunday.

Markets in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan were also closed for public holidays.

New Zealand shares ended lower amid rising fears over the spreading coronavirus and its impact on the global economy. The benchmark NZX-50 Index dropped 70.67 points, or 0.6 percent, to 11,807.14.

Travel-related stocks succumbed to heavy selling pressure, with Air New Zealand falling 2.4 percent and Auckland International Airport declining 1.5 percent.

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