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Tokyo stocks down with investors vigilant on virus

Tokyo stocks closed lower on Monday as investors continued to lock in profits while keeping a close watch on the development of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.60 percent, or 142.00 points, to 23,685.98, while the broader Topix index was down 0.72 percent, or 12.50 points, at 1,719.64.

Tokyo shares had opened lower as investors locked in profits following the downturn on Wall Street, brokers said.

Wall Street stocks retreated from records on Friday as investors took profits following a strong US jobs report that wrapped up a week of solid economic data.

Trading in Tokyo remained sensitive as investors tried to assess the impact of the new coronavirus on the global economy.

The death toll from the outbreak surged past 900 in mainland China on Monday.

"It's very difficult for investors to continue to buy due to uncertainties surrounding the new coronavirus," Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management, told AFP.

Tapas Strickland, director of markets at National Australia Bank, said: "We will be watching the pace of new infections closely. Markets also assessing the economic impact of containment measures with many cities and provinces (in China) in lockdown until at least February 17."

Many Tokyo investors were also on the sidelines as Japanese financial markets will be closed on Tuesday for a public holiday.

The dollar eased to 109.77 yen in Asian afternoon trade from 109.80 yen in New York Friday afternoon.

In individual stocks trade, e-commerce giant Rakuten dropped 1.48 percent to 861 yen after Japan's antitrust watchdog reportedly raided its offices over claims it forced online traders to shoulder free delivery costs.

Sony lost 1.72 percent to 7,691 yen and Toyota dropped 1.45 percent to 7,748 yen.

SoftBank Group gained 1.50 percent to 5,140 yen after surging more than seven percent on Friday on news US hedge fund Elliott Management has built a more-than-$2.5 billion stake in the group.

Honda jumped 2.86 percent to 2,939.5 yen after it revised up its full-year profit forecasts.

East Japan Railway lost 1.11 percent to 9,641 yen after it suffered a technical glitch with its ticketing system Monday morning.