SYDNEY: Japanese shares fell on Monday as investors worried about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on corporate earnings, though stocks of key oil exploration firms rose after major producers finally agreed their biggest-ever output cut.
The key Nikkei average dropped 0.8% at 19,349.74 by the midday break on subdued activity.
The volume of shares traded on the main board valued at only 743 billion yen ($6.8 billion) by the midday recess - roughly half of normal value - largely due to the paucity of foreign investors due to the Easter holidays.
A number of companies that have postponed their earnings announcements due to the pandemic came under pressure.
Nidec Corp shed 1.3% after the electric-motor maker said it will delay its earnings announcement, which was originally scheduled on April 24, but gave no new date.
Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd fell 1.4% after the company also postponed its earnings report by one week to May 19.
Bucking the trend, Yaskawa Electric Corp gained 2.1% as the company provided a quarterly projection after suspending its earnings guidance for its current financial year.
The industrial robot producer forecast an operating profit of four billion yen for the March-May period, even though some analysts had projected an operating loss for the quarter.
The broader Topix fell 0.5% to 1,422.92, with three-fourth of the 33 sector sub-indexes on the exchange trading in negative territory.
Iron and steel, sea transport and warehouse and wharf were the worst three performing sectors on the main bourse.
Elsewhere, Japan's top oil and gas company Inpex Corp and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co Ltd advanced 3.0% and 2.2%, respectively, as oil prices rebounded on Monday after major producers finally agreed their biggest-ever output cut as the pandemic severely curtailed global demand.