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The Tokyo stock market plummeted to its lowest close in more than 16 years on Monday as the market fretted over high-tech earnings.

The 225-issue Nikkei average closed at 11,477.56, down 257.5 points from Friday’s close.

The fall could prod the Bank of Japan into easing monetary policy further at a two-day board meeting that began Monday, an economist said.

“If (BOJ board members) do not make a move then the market could fall further, contributing to the deteriorating economic conditions in Japan,” said JP Morgan senior economist Masaaki Kanno.

The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index of all first-section issues lost 15.40 points to end the day at 1,167.09.

On July 30, the Nikkei tumbled to a previous postbubble low of 11,579.27, on dismal Sony earnings figures.

Monday’s close, the lowest since Dec. 24, 1984, was attributed to bleak earnings news from the technology sector.

Advantest Corp., the nation’s largest manufacturer of semiconductor testers, said Friday it expects to post a 92 percent tumble in its group net profits during fiscal 2001, which ends March 31.

Rohm Co., a cellphone manufacturer, announced the same day that its group operating profits for the current year will probably drop 58 percent on a sharp decline in demand for cellphones and personal computers.

In the morning session Monday, Advantest, a Nikkei component, tumbled 510 yen to 7,950 yen, dragging down the average by around 24 points.

Rohm spent the session at an ask-only 15,520 yen, down 2,000 yen, putting pressure on other high-priced makers of electronic parts, traders said.

The selloff came just as the nation’s summer vacation period got into full swing with the day’s start of the Bon holiday period, which kept many investors away from the market.

“Some market players opt to launch speculative selling on days when trading is expected to be thin, like today,” said Toshihiko Matsuno, an investment adviser at Sakura Friend Securities Co.

Only real estate agencies and railroads posted gains in the morning.

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