(Refiles to correct day of week in first paragraph)
By Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Japanese shares bounced back on Wednesday as sentiment improved slightly after Wall Street's major indexes closed off their lows and Apple trimmed its losses stemming from a sales warning, although the health crisis in China remained an overhang.
Investors are cautious as the coronavirus epidemic could tip the Japanese economy, already hit by sales tax hike last October, into a recession.
The Nikkei share average closed 0.89% higher at 23,400.70, while the broader Topix recovered from the four-month closing low it hit on Tuesday to end up 0.37% at 1,671.86.
"... There was short-covering in the shares that had been sold, absolutely no indication (that) investors are building fresh long position in cash equities," said Masato Kogure, group leader of execution at Tokai Tokyo Securities.
Semi-conductor shares and electronic parts makers, which led the slump on Monday following the warning from Apple, clawed back some losses.
Apple supplier Murata manufacturing rose 2.8% to become the top performer on the Topix core 30, while Shin-etsu Chemical gained 1.4%.
Sumco, which announced a share buyback, rose 4.1%, while Advantest too climbed 4.1%.
Value shares, such as banks, steelmakers and constructors, ended lower.
Topix value index dipped 0.05%, compared with a 0.79% rise in Topix growth.
That pushed the growth-heavy Nikkei to the highest level relative to the broader Topix on record.
The NT ratio rose to 14, the highest level since a big reshuffling in the Nikkei in 2000.
Among banks, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group dropped 1.2%, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 0.9%, hurt by a fall in global bond yields amid worries about the virus.
Nippon Steel, Japan's top steelmaker, dropped 3.6% to 16-1/2-year low.
Elsewhere, Ministop fell 3.6% after the convenience store operator downgraded its earnings outlook sharply, saying it expects an operating loss instead of its previous outlook of a profit. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; editing by Uttaresh.V)