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Nikkei sheds 479 points, hits three-month low

JIJI

The Nikkei average fell for the sixth straight day on Tuesday and struck the lowest closing level in over three months, amid heightened risk-averse sentiment over an uncertain environment overseas.

The Nikkei shed 479.00 points, or 2.71 percent, to 17,218.96, its worst closing level since Sept. 29. On Friday, it fell 69.38 points.

The Topix sagged 45.37 points, or 3.13 percent, to end at 1,401.95, after falling 10.62 points the previous trading day.

On Monday, the market was closed in Tokyo for a national holiday. Tuesday saw heavy losses with investor sentiment hurt by unstable stock markets overseas, falling crude oil prices and the yen’s appreciation against other major currencies, brokers said.

The Nikkei fell over 500 points at one point in the afternoon, as institutional investors stepped up selling to lock in profits amid growing risk-averse sentiment over the course of Shanghai stocks and sluggish crude oil prices, the brokers said.

In particular, investors were worried about a possible fall on Wall Street later Tuesday and a potential further drop in crude oil prices, the brokers said.

Foreign institutional investors sold a wide range of mainstay issues, such as automakers and technologies as well as banking groups and telecommunication carriers, brokers said.

“A slight positive incentive would be enough to boost stock prices amid a recent deterioration in market conditions,” said Chihiro Ota, general manager for investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

Analysts expect that China’s trade statistics for December, due out Wednesday, will be a key to forecasting the course of Tokyo and other foreign financial markets.

“The pace of decline in (China’s) exports is projected to pick up, but it would become a positive incentive if the size of decrease is smaller than market expectations,” Ota said.

Falling issues overwhelmed rising ones 1,890 to 33 in the TSE’s first section, while 12 issues were unchanged.

Volume increased to 2,635 million shares from Friday’s 2,591 million shares.

JX Holdings plunged 5.60 percent following a newspaper report Saturday that the oil company is expected to log a group net loss of around 200 billion yen in the year to March. Peers Idemitsu Kosan and Showa Shell also posted hefty losses.

Retailer Aeon tumbled 9.97 percent after its March-November group operating profit fell short of market consensus, brokers said.

Automakers Toyota, Mazda and Nissan were downbeat, along with banking groups Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui and mobile carriers Softbank Group and KDDI.

A handful of winners included automaker Honda, sportswear maker Descente and apparel maker Onward Holdings.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average tumbled 600 points to close at 17,090.