Japan Falls Amid Coronavirus Milestone

Stocks in Asia Pacific fell on Monday as the number of coronavirus cases globally continues to rise.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index tumbled 517.04 points, or 2.3%, to 21,995.04, as shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing and conglomerate Softbank Group dropped more than 2% each.

On the economic data front, retail sales in Japan dropped 12.3% year-on-year in May, according to the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. That compared against a median market forecast of a 11.6% decline.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.15 per U.S. dollar seeing sharp moves between levels below 106.8 and above 107.2 against the greenback last week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index plummeted 248.71 points, or 1%, to 24,301.28, with shares of life insurer AIA down 3.1%.

Investors continued to monitor developments surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic amid concerns that a surge in cases could impact the reopening of economies. Globally, more than 500,000 lives have been taken by the coronavirus as the number of infections crosses 10 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6881 after touching an earlier low of $0.6842.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 returned from holiday to fade 29.27 points, or 0.7%, to 4,109.72.

In Korea, the Kospi faltered 41.17 points, or 1.9%, to 2,093.48

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index reversed 30.41 points, or 1.2%, to 2,574.10

In Taiwan, the Taiex index backpedaled 118.05 points, or 1%, to 11,542.62.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 regained 123.31 points, or 1.1%, to 11,282.54.

In Australia, the ASX 200 dropped 89.05 points, or 1.5%, to 5,815.03.