Nikkei average plummets to 18,896

The Nikkei average closed Jan. 7 at 18,896.19, below the sensitive 19,000 line for the first time in 13 months, down 549.81 from the close Jan. 6.The yen was quoted at 115.34-115.36 as of 3 p.m. The currency, which also fell to 117 to the dollar Jan. 6, rebounded briefly into the 114 levels early Jan. 7, following a comment by Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka. Mitsuzuka told a news conference the ministry “will take appropriate action if the yen moves excessively.”