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Tokyo's Nikkei closes up over 4% on slowing virus death toll

Tokyo's key Nikkei index closed more than four percent higher on Monday as investors reacted positively to reports suggesting a slowing daily death toll from coronavirus in Europe.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 4.24 percent, or 756.11 points, to close at 18,576.30, while the broader Topix jumped 3.86 percent, or 51.17 points, to 1,376.30.

"Traders reacted positively to reports on a slowing death toll in Italy and Spain," Yoshihiro Ito, chief strategist at Okasan Online Securities, said in a commentary.

"But it is unclear if the outbreak will be contained."

Italy reported its lowest daily toll in two weeks, while Spanish officials said deaths fell for the third straight day and France reported its lowest daily toll in a week.

The death toll in New York state rose, but the jump showed a slight decrease in the day-to-day number.

In Japan, media reports said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to declare a state of emergency in parts of Japan including Tokyo as the number of people infected with the new coronavirus continues to increase.

The dollar fetched 109.01 yen in Asian trade, against 108.21 yen in New York.

A cheaper yen is good for Japanese exporters as it makes their products more competitive abroad while inflating profits when repatriated.

In Tokyo, shares were higher across the board, with Toyota advancing 6.21 percent to 6,580 yen and Sony 4.63 percent to 6,550 yen.

Fujifilm Holdings gained 6.97 percent to 6,166 yen amid expectations for its medicine Avigan as anti-coronavirus treatment.

Mobile phone carrier KDDI rose 5.77 percent to 3,278 yen and its bigger rival NTT Docomo climbed 6.78 percent to 3,369 yen.

Analysts said telecoms firms are benefitting from a surge in usage by people working from home.

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