TOKYO: Japanese shares fell to a two-week low on Wednesday, as investors unwound bets from risk assets following the historic collapse in crude oil prices, while caution ahead of corporate results later this week also weighed on sentiment.
The Nikkei index fell 1.20% to 19,050.33 by midday, with consumer discretionary and information technology sectors leading declines.
While oil prices steadied on Wednesday after U.S. front-month crude futures turned negative for the first time ever earlier this week, the extent of the price disruption has pushed other financial markets lower, prompting investors to reverse long position in equities.
Denting sentiment further, investors were reluctant to hold big positions in Japanese shares before they announce earnings later this week, which are likely to reveal the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
On the Nikkei index, there were 60 advancers against 161 decliners.
The largest percentage losers on the index were industrial machinery maker Yokogawa Electric Corp, down 4.72%, followed by oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd that fell 4.37%, and digital watch maker Casio Computer Co Ltd, down by 4.26%.
The largest percentage gainers on the index were chemical manufacturer Ube Industries Ltd, up 3.6%, followed by marine transport company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd that gained 3.04%, and semiconductor testing equipment maker Advantest Corp, up by 2.74%.
Shares of games maker Nintendo rose 1.69% after activist investor ValueAct Capital Partners LP said it has built a stake of over $1.1 billion in the company in a bet that the development of new entertainment products will fuel growth.
Meanwhile, the broader TOPIX index fell 0.67% to 1,406.42.
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board was 0.56 billion, compared with the average of 1.96 billion in the past 30 days.