Japan’s Nikkei index closes down

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JapanBrokerage REUTERS A man looks at his watch as he passes an electronic board displaying a graph of currency rates outside a brokerage in Tokyo.

Tokyo - Tokyo stocks plunged 4.18 percent Tuesday after weak US manufacturing data sent Wall Street and the dollar tumbling, with the headline index shedding 14 percent in a month after its huge rally last year.

The benchmark Nikkei-225 index lost 610.66 points to 14,008.47, marking the worst percentage loss of the year.

The Topix index of all first-section shares fell 4.77 percent, or 57.05 points, to 1,139.27.

Just over a month after the Nikkei ended 2013 with a world beating 57 percent rally - its best annual run in over four decades - Japanese shares have entered in what analysts say is a corrective phase.

The rise of the yen against the dollar has pushed down domestic stocks through the early weeks of 2014, after the currency's sharp decline through last year boosted the market.

The dollar bought 100.80 yen Tuesday afternoon, slipping further from 100.94 yen in New York Monday afternoon and well down from 102.31 yen in Tokyo at the start of the week.

A weaker yen gives Japanese exporters the flexibility to cut prices of the goods they sell overseas and it inflates repatriated profits, while a stronger yen undercuts those gains.

The Tokyo market's decline on Tuesday came as Wall Street suffered a sell-off after a surprisingly weak US manufacturing report sparked another round of selling amid concerns about the strength of the global economy.

Emerging markets have also been shaken with fears of capital flight as the US central bank pulled back again on its massive stimulus spending, widely credited for buoying global stock markets.

“Investors should steer clear of risk assets over the short term as the turmoil does not look like it will be over anytime soon,” Credit Agricole said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 2.08 percent at 15,372.80 on Monday.

The US data showed that manufacturing sector growth slowed sharply in January.

The Institute for Supply Management's purchasing managers index sank to 51.3 from 56.5 in December, not far above the 50 level between expansion and contraction.

Among major Tokyo shares, Toyota gave up 5.67 percent to 5,500 yen, Panasonic fell 6.84 percent to 1,061 yen while Sharp lost 8.38 percent to 317 yen.

Shortly after the market closed, the three firms reported strong nine-month earnings.

Sony, which reports its results on Thursday, fell 3.22 percent to 1,530 yen.

Nintendo's hard-hit shares gave up earlier gains and ended with a 1.03 percent loss to 11,900 yen. - Sapa-AFP


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