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Nikkei slumps on U.S. jobs data

Sony shares tumbled on fears of slowing global demand  

TOKYO, Japan -- Tokyo's key Nikkei stock average opened sharply lower Monday, hitting a fresh 17-year low after U.S. job figures sent Wall Street crumbling.

The tech-sensitive Nikkei 225 average was down 2.55 percent or 268.41 to 10,252.46 by by mid-morning. It was the Nikkei's lowest intraday level since August 1984.

The broader capital-weighted TOPIX index was 2.08 percent or 21.82 points to 1,059.01.

Other markets in the region also opened weaker, with Australia, New Zealand and Korea all down.

Fresh worries for U.S. exporters

In the U.S., the jobless rate jumped to a four-year high of 4.9 percent in August from 4.5 percent, hurting U.S. indices on Friday and stoking fears in Japan that overseas consumption of Japanese goods would slow.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 2.39 percent to 9,605.85 and the U.S. Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 1.05 percent to 1,687.70.

"We all know how dependent Japanese manufacturers are on the U.S. market. The jobs data is a blow to already-weak sentiment," said Masayoshi Okamoto, a trader at Jujiya Securities.

"The market looks ready to break 10,000."

Banks looking at a merger

Consumer electronics gaint Sony Corp dropped 1.78 percent to 4,960 yen. Sony relies on the U.S. market for nearly one-third of its sales.

The banking sector sagged, with Asahi Bank falling 5.59 percent to 152 yen despite news late on Friday it had asked Osaka-based Daiwa Bank to consider a merger under a holding company structure.

Banks have been under pressure due to fears that sliding stock prices would expand latent losses on their vast shareholdings.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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