Japanese stocks plunge to 19-year low
TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japanese equity markets are in turmoil Tuesday, with the key Nikkei 225 average plunging to levels not seen for almost 19 years.
The sharp decline in Tokyo comes as fears grow about the sustainability of any recovery in the world's second largest economy.
The Nikkei is down 1.67 percent to 9362.53 at the midday mark, after earlier dropping 252 points or 2.6 percent to 9269.10, its lowest level since November 1983.
The broader capital-weighted Topix index is off 1.61 percent to 915.40, after touching 909.48 in the morning session. That was its lowest point since December 1984.
High-profile technology-related stocks including Matsushita Electric Industrial, Hitachi, Toshiba and Canon are all down sharply. Big bank Mizuho Holdings is off more than 7 percent.
Singapore, N.Z. higher
Most other Asian markets are slightly lower heading into Tuesday afternoon, with only Singapore and New Zealand showing gains.
Australia's S&P/ASX200 is off 0.13 percent to 3127.1 and Taiwan's Taiex is down about 0.8 percent to 4606.25.
In South Korea, where the Kospi jumped sharply on Monday, the market dipped a little, sending the index down about half a percent to 748.25. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index is 0.8 percent lower to 9813.82 near midday.
Singapore's Straits Times index is up almost 1 percent to 1474.12 in late morning trade, while New Zealand's Top 40 is about 0.65 percent higher at 2071.19.
In Tokyo, the sharpest falls are across technology, industry and the financial services sectors.
"It was only a matter of time until we fell this low," Masanori Hoshina, head of global portfolio trading marketing at BNP Paribas, told Reuters news agency.
"Part of our weakness lies in concerns about the cloudy economic outlook in the U.S. But the key problem is that there are still no signs of a sustainable economic recovery in Japan," he added.
Battering for banks
Banks are taking a battering, with Mizuho Holdings, the world's largest bank by assets, plunging 7.23 percent to 231,000 yen and rival UFJ Holdings down 4.18 percent at 252,000 yen.
Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group is down 2.5 percent to 775,000 yen and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp is 3.3 percent lower to 584 yen.
Japan's megabanks have large stockholdings, and falls in the market eat into their capital base, increasing fears of financial instability.
Japan's high-tech exporters have also been hit hard.
Consumer electronics giant Matsushita Electric Industrial is down 3.05 percent to 1369 yen, Hitachi is off 2.4 percent to 613 yen and Toshiba Corp is 2.25 percent lower at 391 yen.
Big convenience retailer Seven Eleven Japan is down 2 percent to 4210 yen.
Samsung, SK lower
In Seoul, market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is 0.6 percent lower at 338,000 won. SK Telecom is down a similar amount to 242,500 won.
The biggest movers are telco KT Corp, off 3.2 percent to 54,500 won, and steelmaker Posco, which is more up more than 3 percent at 113,500 won.
In Australia, media group News Corp is down 1 percent to A$9.46, big miner Rio Tinto is 1.1 percent lower at A$32.20 and Qantas is also down about 1 percent to A$4.23.
Telstra and big banks ANZ and CBA are among the gainers.
In Singapore, SingTel is up 2 percent to S$1.46. Chartered Semiconductor, which fell 20 percent Monday after announcing a $633 million rights issue, is up about 0.6 percent.
Big banks DBS and UOB are also higher.
Taiwan's chip foundry leader TSMC is unchanged at T$48.70 while smaller rival UMC is down 0.7 percent to T$27.30.
Hong Kong's bluechips are broadly higher, led by utilities and property stocks. Henderson Land is about 1 percent higher at HK$25.20.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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