Tokyo stock index down 3.22 percent


TOKYO: Tokyo stocks ended 3.22 percent lower on Monday, driven down by profit-taking and a stronger yen after a rollercoaster ride last week that included a 7.3-percent one-day drop.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 469.80 points to 14,142.65, while the Topix index of all first-section shares gave up 3.35 percent, or 40.01 points to 1,154.07.

“Investors’ profit-taking movement is continuing as markets in New York and London are closed today, and they might want to watch the currency market,” Mizuho Securities analyst Masahiro Yamaguchi told Agence France-Presse.

The London market will be closed for a bank holiday and US markets are shut for Memorial Day.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange was going through an adjustment period, Yamaguchi said, adding that “this is part of reaction to gains in recent weeks in the Tokyo market.”

The Nikkei had been making steady gains until on Thursday when the benchmark index plummeted 7.3 percent after disappointing data out of China stoked fears about the world’s second-largest economy, a major trade partner with Japan.

That was followed by a turbulent Friday session with the index see-sawing in and out of negative territory for most of the day, before ending 0.89 percent higher.

The Nikkei had gained about 60 percent over the past six months under the pro-spending, pro-growth policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in December after landslide elections.

Aggressive monetary easing by the Bank of Japan—a key plank of so-called Abenomics—has helped push down the yen, which in turn tends to lift shares of Japanese firms, as it makes them more competitive overseas and inflates the value of repatriated foreign earnings.

But with the yen rising on Monday, investors were also fretting that “the momentum of ‘Abenomics’ benefits might be waning,” Eiji Kinouchi, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities Capital Markets, told Dow Jones Newswires.

“If the government can’t explain how Japan is going to achieve growth and organize its finances, Japan may face criticism again for its aggressive monetary easing policy,” he said.

Among top companies, Nissan lost 6.83 percent to 1,076 yen, Sony dropped 6.28 percent to 2,013 yen, and brokerage giant Nomura fell 3.57 percent to 837 yen.

Mobile carrier Softbank lost 4.08 percent to 5,170 yen amid national security concerns raised by US lawmakers over its $20-billion proposed takeover of Sprint Nextel.

Exporters took a hit as the yen strengthened in Tokyo forex trade with the dollar buying 101.04 yen, down from 101.14 yen in New York City on Friday and 102.33 yen in Tokyo on Friday morning.

The euro also weakened to 130.57 yen from 130.82 yen.

Wall Street finished flat on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 15,303.10.



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