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Nikkei eases on virus concerns, weak corporate earnings

TOKYO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Japanese shares slipped on Monday, as fears about the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in China and weak earning results outweighed any boost from a strong U.S. employment data.

As of 0215 GMT, the Nikkei share average fell 0.2% to 23,779.81 while the broader Topix lost 0.38% to 1,725.52.

The death toll from the coronavirus rose again over the weekend, passing the total killed by the SARS epidemic. It now stands at 908 in mainland China, where there are a total of 40,171 infections.

"We can't see signs that the epidemic is easing as yet. The damages to supply chains are also not clear," said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, chief strategist at Mizuho Securities.

"We need to see whether the epidemic will peak out this month or it could take a bit longer."

Worries about the disease dampened any boost from strong U.S. jobs report on Friday. Non-farm payrolls increased 225,000 in January, far above expectations of 160,000.

Earning results from some Japanese firms also highlighted tough business conditions they faced.

Nippon Steel fell as much as 3.7% before recouping losses after the steelmaker booked a record loss of 440 billion yen ($4 billion) this financial year as it announced closing three blast furnaces to deal with waning domestic demand.

While the losses were unexpectedly big, some market players took its efforts for business restructuring as positive in the long-term.

Unicharm dipped 1% after the manufacturer of diapers cut its earnings outlook on weak demand in China.

Camera maker Nikon dropped 4.3% following its weak earnings due to shrinking demand for digital camera.

Meanwhile, Honda Motor gained 3.3% after Japan's third-biggest carmaker raised its forecast for full-year operating profit by 6% on Friday due to a weaker yen.

Its top executive said the company has not suffered from major supply chain disruptions in coronavirus-hit China. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano Editing by Arun Koyyur)