Japanese stocks down as Trump stirs new China tensions

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese and Australian stocks tumbled yesterday at the end of a healthy week across world markets, with traders tracking a sell-off on Wall Street as another huge jump in jobless claims underlined the impact of coronavirus on the global economy.

Investors were also spooked by comments from United States (US) President Donald Trump indicating he could hit China with further tariffs over its handling of the virus crisis, saying he had seen evidence linking a Wuhan lab to the contagion.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 2.84 per cent, or 574.34 points, to end at 19,619.35, while the broader Topix index lost 2.24 per cent, or 32.77 points, to 1,431.26.

Sydney fell five per cent in its worst performance for a month owing to a combination of concern over the global economic downturn and profit-taking following gains in April.

Wellington dropped 0.8 per cent, while the rest of Asia was closed for public holidays.
“We need to be cautious as there have been reports that US President Donald Trump is considering retaliation against China over the new coronavirus,” Okasan Online Securities said in a note.

US markets turned negative after the Labor Department said another 3.8 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, taking the six-week total above 30 million.

A woman walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP