Japan’s economic pulse slowed Thursday as Tokyo stock prices threatened to fall through the 15,000 barrier and the exchange rate hit 142 yen to the dollar.

The key Nikkei average of 225 issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed at 15,014.04, down 325.22 points from Wednesday.

The yen slipped to another seven-year low of 142.00-142.02 at 3 p.m. before settling in at 141.67-70 at 5 p.m.

Lingering uncertainty over the Japanese economy has dampened overall market sentiment. Market players continued selling yen for dollars, seeing no reason to hold on to Asian currencies in light of sharp declines in markets around the region, dealers said. A sense of crisis over Asian economies also prompted stock selling.

Brokerage house traders warned that the yen’s fall will continue unless the government achieves visible progress in the structural reform of the economy. Unless the yen-dollar rate stabilizes, a substantial recovery in share prices will be impossible, they added.

China also expressed concern, calling attention to the effects Japan’s weakening yen is having on shaky financial markets around Asia. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao urged Japan to halt the yen’s slide and prevent further harm to Asian economies.

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