TOKYO, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Japanese shares bounced back modestly on Wednesday, partially clawing back hefty losses from the previous session, even as the upside was limited on worries related to the fast-spreading coronavirus.
The Nikkei share average rose 0.5% to 23,325.52 by the midday break, one day after sliding 2%, while the broader Topix added 0.2% to 1,695.39.
Traders called Wednesday's weak bounce a mere technical rebound, noting the lingering concerns about the virus outbreak and its economic impact on the market.
The death toll from the China-linked virus rose sharply to 132 on Wednesday with nearly 1,500 new cases, heaping pressure on Beijing to control the disease as U.S. officials said the White House was weighing whether to suspend all flights to the country.
While mainland Chinese markets will remain shut this week, markets resumed trading in Hong Kong on Wednesday following the Lunar New Year holiday. Quite a few Chinese firms are listed in Hong Kong.
"Some investors swiftly bought back Tokyo-listed shares as Hong Kong's drop was not as massive as they had feared," said Takehiko Masuzawa, head of sales trading for Japanese clients at Macquarie Capital Securities.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 2.4% at 0230 GMT.
Shippers climbed 2.6% to become the best performing sector of the Tokyo Stock Exchange's 33 subindexes.
Nippon Yusen KK jumped 3.3% after the Nikkei newspaper reported that Japan's largest shipping company was likely to book 20 billion yen ($182 million) in recurring profit for the October-December period, the highest quarterly figure in three years. The company is due to announce its earnings results for the April-December period on Friday.
Elsewhere, Unizo Holdings soared 6.9% after U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group sweetened its proposed offer for the company by 12% to 191.6 billion yen ($1.75 billion), topping a rival bid from U.S. buyout fund Lone Star. ($1 = 109.7000 yen) (Reporting By Tomo Uetake; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)