Share prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange took another severe beating Wednesday, with the Nikkei Stock Average briefly dipping below the crucial 9,000 mark to hit a fresh 19-year low.

The 225-issue Nikkei fell 141.95 points, or 1.54 percent, to close at 9,075.09 after touching 8,995.20 in the late afternoon, down 221.84 points. The Nikkei fell for the seventh consecutive day.

The broader Topix index of all first section issues declined 17.85 points, or 1.97 percent, to 886.39, registering a near 18-year low.

The market was responding to comments by top government officials Tuesday and Wednesday that downplayed the stock plunge, brokers said, adding that investors further sold equities to signal drastic steps must be taken to bring about reforms and economic recovery.

“Considering Japanese economic fundamentals, which are showing a recovery, the Nikkei could trade around 12,000,” said Hiroaki Kuramochi, head of the equities department at Credit Lyonnais Securities (Japan). “The current slump is clearly a market message criticizing the government for being too slow in adopting reforms.”

Stocks opened lower, following heavy equity losses overnight in the U.S. and European markets.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq composite index in New York, the FT 100 index in London, the DAX index in Frankfurt and the CAC 40 index in Paris all plummeted by between 4 percent and 6 percent Tuesday.

The downswing of Tokyo stocks accelerated in the afternoon, with the Nikkei momentarily trading below 9,000.

Brokers were pessimistic about the prospects of the market, saying the selling climax has yet to arrive. Technical analysts said the Nikkei’s near-term downside support levels are between 8,900 and 8,700.

Almost all business sectors lost ground, led by telecoms, banks and rubber makers.

The nation’s four major banking groups — Mizuho Holdings, Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking and UFJ Holdings — all took a beating.

Brokers said investors are growing nervous about their financial health, as slumping stock prices ahead of the Sept. 30 midyear book-closings will expand latent losses on their huge stockholdings.

Institutional investors shifted their funds from financial and high-tech firms to noncyclic sectors, including utilities and pharmaceuticals.

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