Tokyo stocks finish 1.60% lower
TOKYO– Tokyo stocks closed 1.60 percent lower on Friday after a worse-than-expected drop in Japan’s factory output while investors look to a speech by US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke later in the day.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange lost 143.87 points to 8,839.91 while the broader Topix index of all first-section issues was down 1.63 percent, or 12.15 points, at 731.64.
The decline tracked a weak session in Europe and on Wall Street as poor eurozone consumer and business confidence figures weighed on markets.
Shortly before the Tokyo market opened, the government announced a 1.2 percent decline in Japan’s factory output for July, underlining worries about a recovery for the world’s third-largest economy.
“The weak Japanese industrial production numbers acted as a drag on exporters, especially steel, auto, and electronics makers,” Investrust CEO Hiroyuki Fukunaga said.
Investors were now awaiting Bernanke’s speech later Friday at an annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, amid speculation he will signal new stimulus measures to help the sluggish US economy.
But the Tokyo market had now largely discounted fresh steps from Bernanke, said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equities at SMBC Nikko Securities.
“With few expecting much in the way of a fresh or unfamiliar stance from Bernanke, Japanese shares are more subject to currency and Asian market movements,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.
Concerns about the global economy pushed down Japanese steelmakers, with JFE Holdings off 4.9 percent at 988 yen and Nippon Steel closing 5.6 percent lower at 151 yen, a day after it announced a 120 billion yen ($1.53 billion) one-time loss from a writedown on two loss-making Japanese mills.
Consumer electronics giant Sharp fell 12.8 percent to 198 yen on uncertainty over a proposed tie-up with Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision and a report that it had yet to start mass producing screens for Apple’s new iPhone.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.81 percent on Thursday, with reports that debt-hit Spain may delay a decision on whether to seek a bailout also weighing on sentiment.
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