The Nikkei turned sharply lower to slip below 17,000 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Tuesday, amid a wait-and-see mood ahead of monetary policy meetings in the United States and Japan.
The Nikkei lost 402.01 points, or 2.35 percent, to finish at 16,708.90. On Monday, it climbed 152.38 points.
The Topix ended down 32.40 points, or 2.33 percent, at 1,360.23, after rising 18.44 points the previous day.
Both indexes lost ground for the first time in three market days.
Tokyo stocks met with heavy selling from the outset of the day’s trading, after the U.S. Dow Jones industrial average shed over 200 points on Monday on the back of a renewed fall in crude oil prices.
The market was also weighed by the yen’s rise against the dollar and a drop of Shanghai stocks.
The Nikkei and the Topix both moved in negative territory throughout the day, with large-cap issues, such as automakers and banks, suffering losses.
Market players increasingly retreated to the sidelines ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting through Wednesday and the Bank of Japan’s policy-setting meeting on Thursday and Friday, brokers said.
“The market fell in thin trading,” Chihiro Ota, general manager for investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., said, noting that investors found it difficult to step up activities prior to the FOMC and the BOJ Policy Board meetings.
An official with an online securities firm pointed to continued selling from government-affiliated investment funds in oil-producing countries.
While noting that Tokyo stocks could get back on an upward trend if the BOJ decides on additional monetary easing, Ota said that economists expect the central bank will not act this time.
Falling issues far outnumbered rising ones 1,759 to 148 on the TSE’s first section, while 28 issues were unchanged.
Volume fell to 2,157 million shares from Monday’s 2,291 million shares.
All 33 sector subindexes on the first section ended lower.
Mainstay issues, such as automakers Toyota and Fuji Heavy, banking group Mitsubishi UFJ, electronic parts producer Murata Manufacturing and industrial robot maker Fanuc, came under selling pressure amid a risk-averse mood.
Losers also included air conditioner maker Daikin, steelmaking and engineering group JFE Holdings, electronics and entertainment giant Sony, mobile phone carrier SoftBank Group and clothing store chain operator Fast Retailing.
On the other hand, Sakura Internet and Ono Pharmaceutical gained ground.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the March contract on the Nikkei average was down 520 points at 16,660.