Tokyo stocks tumbled Tuesday on broad-sector selling by speculative investors, sending the benchmark indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to levels last seen in the early 1980s.
The 225-issue Nikkei average shed 304.59 points, or 3.20 percent, to close at 9,217.04, its lowest level since Sept. 19, 1983, when it finished at 9,141.25.
The broader Topix index of all first-section issues fell 26.12 points, or 2.81 percent, to 904.24, its lowest close since Dec. 25, 1984, when it ended at 898.99.
Brokers attributed the fall to selling by speculative investors running short-term funds who, they said, were frustrated by the long spell of narrow-range trading.
“The Nikkei has stayed in a boxed range between 9,500 and 10,000 since mid-July, and people started to wonder when it will break out of that range, either upward or downward,” said Toshihiko Matsuno, an investment adviser at Sakura Friend Securities Co.
“Speculative moves were also seen Monday last week, when the Nikkei rose above 10,000 for the first time since July 30. But the buying failed to spur follow-throughs, so this time they tried to test the downside.”
Brokers said the nuclear-plant scandal involving Tokyo Electric Power Co. has made investors shun power companies in general and to lean toward gas firms.
Economic ministers said they are monitoring prices on the bourse closely but have no specific policies in the pipeline to provide them with a boost.
Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa told a news conference that it would be “difficult” to implement policies aimed specifically at boosting Tokyo stock prices, as the decline is part of a global trend.
“I think stocks are being affected by those of the United States,” he said.
“The drop in stock prices is taking place globally. It is difficult for us to aggressively take steps aimed at Japanese stock prices in such an environment.”
Shiokawa added, however, that tax and other systems related to stock trading should be revised to promote activity on Japan’s exchanges.
Japanese firms should place more emphasis on efforts to raise funds directly from the market rather than relying on loans from financial institutions, Shiokawa said.
Meanwhile, Financial Services Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa said Japanese banks will face problems due to their falling share prices. In this regard, he urged investors to eschew a bearish path, claiming that Japan’s economic fundamentals are favorable.
“I have been told by many people that the fundamentals are good and regional economic activity has been becoming active,” Yanagisawa told a news conference. “I hope investors will make appropriate investment decisions by looking at the real state of the Japanese economy.”
Last Friday, the government said Japan’s economy grew a real 0.5 percent in the April-June quarter from the previous quarter, marking a first period of growth in five quarters.
The data initially appeared to validate the government’s own economic assessment — that signs of a nascent recovery are visible in some areas but that the economy overall continues to be in a difficult situation.
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