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Japanese Market Tumbles

The Japanese stock market is tumbling on Thursday following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street and as investors turned cautious after the Tokyo governor requested residents to stay at home on weekends amid the coronavirus outbreak.

A report by the Nikkei Asian Review that tech giant Apple is considering delaying the launch of its 5G iPhone by "months" weighed on shares of Apple's Japanese suppliers. The delay is reportedly due to issues related to consumer demand amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 878.16 points or 4.49 percent to 18,668.47, after touching a low of 18,643.13 earlier. Japanese shares posted strong gains on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, market heavyweight SoftBank is losing more than 10 percent after a rating downgrade by Moody's Investors Service and Fast Retailing is falling more than 9 percent.

The major exporters are notably lower on a stronger yen. Canon is falling almost 8 percent, Panasonic is losing 3 percent Sony is declining more than 2 percent, and Mitsubishi Electric is down almost 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex and Japan Petroleum are losing more than 6 percent each after crude oil prices declined 2 percent overnight.

In the tech space, Advantest is lower by more than 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is down more than 2 percent. Among Apple's suppliers, Murata Manufacturing is tumbling more than 5 percent and Taiyo Yuden is losing more than 4 percent.

Among the major gainers, Nichirei Corp is advancing more than 4 percent, while Unitika and Nissan Chemical are rising more than 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Fast Retailing, Nippon Steel and Tokyo Fudosan are all tumbling almost 9 percent each, while Toho Zinc is lower by almost 8 percent.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were up 2.1 percent on year in February. That was shy of expectations for an annual increase of 2.2 percent and down from 2.3 percent in January.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 110 yen-range on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday after moving higher earlier in the session. The Dow held on to a strong gain partly due to a substantial advance by shares of Boeing and Nike. The late-day pullback came amid a dispute between Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and several Republican Senators that could delay a massive stimulus package. Sanders said he is prepared to put a hold on the legislation unless the GOP Senators drop their objections to fast-tracking the bill over a provision that would increase maximum unemployment benefits by $600 a week for four months.

While the Nasdaq fell 33.56 points or 0.5 percent to 7,384.30, the Dow surged up 495.64 points or 2.4 percent to 21,200.55 and the S&P 500 jumped 28.23 points or 1.2 percent to 2,475.56.

The major European markets also finished a volatile session showing strong moves to the upside. While the German DAX Index jumped by 1.8 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both spiked by 4.5 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Wednesday, following a rally in gasoline futures due to a decline in weekly gasoline inventories. Optimism about the passage of the massive $2 trillion stimulus bill also contributed to oil's rise in the session. WTI crude for May ended up $0.48, or about 2 percent, at $24.49 a barrel.

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