Tokyo: Japanese share prices hit their lowest level in nearly six months on Friday, losing another 2.75% after weak US data, with a spike in the yen hitting exporter stocks, dealers said.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index lost 345.43 points to close at 12,212.23, the lowest close since mid-March.
The broader Topix index of all first-section shares dropped 30.81 points or 2.56% to 1,170.84, slipping below 1,200 points.
The Nikkei briefly fell more than three percent in early trading due to concerns that speculators may place big sell orders in Nikkei futures.
“Speculative selling could kick in any time in Nikkei futures amid weak sentiment, as concerns over economic conditions are not easing any time soon,” Akira Ishida, head of the equities department at Chuo Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Ishida added that the cautious mood may persist next week, as some investors were already starting to worry about earnings reports from US brokerages late next week and beyond.
Wall Street was hammered overnight as more losses in private-sector employment weighed on market sentiment, with fears that consumption, a main pillar for US growth, is stumbling.
A survey by payroll firm ADP on Thursday showed the loss of 33,000 private-sector jobs in July, which heightened anxiety ahead of a government report Friday on monthly US payrolls for August, dealers said.
Dealers also said selling accelerated during the day as the European Central Bank cut its growth forecast for the year to 1.4% from 1.8% The 15-member eurozone in the second quarter suffered its first contraction since the bloc’s creation in 1999.
Big losses among major bank stocks dragged down the index. Mizuho Financial Group sank 6.3 percent to 413,000 yen as Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group lost 4.7% to 585,000.
Toyota Motor Corp. shares were down 2.47% at 4,750.