Nikkei down 117 points by noon

Nikkei down 117 points by noon

Tokyo: Japanese share prices fell 0.77% in morning trade on Tuesday after Wall Street suffered fresh losses overnight on worries about the fallout from US subprime mortgage problems, dealers said.

They said investors are nervous that growing inflationary pressures will limit the scope for further US interest rate cuts to ease a housing slump and related credit crunch.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index dropped 117.31 points to 15,132.48 by the lunch break.

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares lost 6.80 points or 0.46% to 1,465.90.

Decliners outnumbered gainers 909 to 694 with 118 issues unchanged.

Volume traded rose to 951 million shares from 748 million Monday morning.

“Due to a lack of strong incentives to buy shares, Japanese stocks are expected to follow a downturn," said Yoshikiyo Shimamine, chief economist at Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute.

Japanese stocks “may test this year’s lows," he said.

The Nikkei hit an intraday low for the year of 14,669.85 on 22 November.

Disappointing US economic indicators released Monday dampened investor sentiment.

The New York Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing Index fell more sharply than economists expected in December, while the National Association of Home Builders said its housing market index remained steady in November at its lowest level since 1985.

High-tech issues were broadly lower following declines in New York overnight by their US peers.

TDK Corp dropped 210 yen or 2.5% to 8,140. Advantest Corp declined 30 yen or 1.0% to 3,120, while Matsushita Electric Industrial Co fell 65 yen or 2.8% to 2,250.

Banks turned higher as investors sought bargains after recent sharp losses.

Mizuho Financial gained 9,000 yen or 1.7% to 542,000, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial added 23 yen or 2.2% to 1,051 and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial advanced 7,000 yen or 0.9% to 832,000.

KDDI Corp was up 2,000 yen or 0.3% at 781,000 on a Nikkei report that the government has decided to issue licenses for next-generation wireless broadband services to a group led by the company.