The Nikkei stock average fell to a new 19-year closing low Wednesday in thin and narrow trading, as the market ignored new data showing the Japanese economy maintained growth from the start of this year.
The 225-issue Nikkei fell 26.25 points, or 0.31 percent, to close at 8,438.52, its lowest finish since April 8, 1983.
The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index (Topix) of all first-section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange shed 3.19 points, or 0.38 percent, to 836.43.
The Nikkei is now at less than a quarter of its lifetime closing high of 38,915.87, touched on Dec. 29, 1989, at the height of the asset-inflated bubble economy.
Although the falls were mild, with the Nikkei’s downside supported at around 8,390, they were enough to push the benchmark index, which has plunged some 20 percent so far this year, to a fresh 19-year closing low. Wednesday’s close was only 1 point lower than the Nikkei’s previous 19-year low of 8,439.62, set on Oct. 10.
Shortly before the start of trading, the Cabinet Office announced that gross domestic product had grown a real 0.7 percent in the July-September quarter from the previous quarter, with personal spending up 0.8 percent. The GDP figure translates into annualized growth of 3 percent.
The data exceeded the market’s expectations of an annualized rise of around 2 percent, but the Nikkei hovered around the previous day’s close in early trading and took a brief dip below 8,400 at midmorning.
The index then remained almost motionless in the afternoon, fluctuating mostly between 8,430 and 8,460.
Investors were not impressed by Japan’s third consecutive quarter of economic growth.
The Japanese market “currently does not have a keen interest in the GDP itself or any other macroeconomic data,” said Masahiko Sato, equity marketing manager of Nomura Securities Co. “In general, the market has been losing the power to react strongly to any news,” with both volatility and the number of market participants falling.
“Investors are more interested in stock movements in overseas markets and the situation surrounding Iraq.”
Trading continued to thin, with volume on the TSE’s main section falling to 626.02 million shares from Tuesday’s 662.62 million. Declining issues overwhelmed gainers 1,108 to 278, while 105 issues were unchanged.
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