Tokyo share prices and the yen tumbled Monday amid concerns over Russian political turmoil.
The 225-issue Nikkei average ended the day 309.84 points, or 2 percent, lower at 14,988.36, after plummeting more than 400 points at one point.
On the currency market, the dollar was changing hands at 144.39-42 yen at 5 p.m., up from 142.93-95 yen late Friday, as repeated warnings from government officials against speculative attacks on the yen went largely unheeded.
The market reacted with shock and concern to reports that Russian President Boris Yeltsin dismissed his government Sunday night. The news prompted a flight of money into the U.S. currency, which is often considered a safe-haven in times of international unrest.
The news on the Russian economic and political crisis came close on the heels of U.S. missile strikes against alleged terrorist camps in Afghanistan and a chemical plant in Sudan. The Russian crisis is posing a serious threat to the world economy, which has been rocked by Japan’s bleak economic prospects and the crisis-stricken Asian economies, said Akira Narumi, an analyst at Sakura Investment Management Co.
The Russian crisis could spill over into emerging markets in Latin America as well and even have an adverse impact on the U.S. economy, Narumi said.
Mitsuhiro Nakano, a senior strategist at Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd., agreed. Further falls on Wall Street, in turn, would renew fears about a simultaneous global stock market rout, triggering selloffs of a broad array of shares on the Tokyo market, Nakano said.
If that proves to be the case, the Dow Jones industrial average could fall below the psychologically important 8,000 barrier and the Nikkei could plunge to 14,500, he said, although he dismissed that possibility in the foreseeable future.
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