• Kyodo News


Tokyo stocks fell Monday, sending the key Nikkei index to its lowest close in more than 26 years as investors were jittery about prospects for the global financial sector and Japan’s economy.

The 225-issue Nikkei lost 87.07 points, or 1.2 percent, to end at 7,086.03, marking its lowest finish since Oct. 6, 1982, when it closed at 6,974.35.

The broader Topix index of all first-section issues was down 10.86 points, or 1.51 percent, at 710.53, its lowest level since Dec. 20, 1983, when it ended at 708.53.

Declines were led by real estate, insurance and pharmaceutical issues. Major gainers included mining, oil and coal products, and glass and ceramics issues.

Hiroichi Nishi, equities chief at Nikko Cordial Securities Inc., attributed the day’s fall to “strong financial worries mainly stemming from the United States and Europe.”

Toshikazu Horiuchi, equities strategist at Cosmo Securities Co., said that in addition to the global financial woes, there is “the reality of the worsening Japanese economy and anxiety over increasing bankruptcies ahead of the end of Japan’s fiscal year (at the end of this month).”

“Investors are unloading risky assets at a time when the economy is bad,” Horiuchi said. The downward trend will “not change until fundamentals are firm,” he said.

Data were released earlier Monday showing that the number of corporate bankruptcies in Japan rose 10.38 percent in February from a year before to 1,318. The grim outlook for the domestic economy weighed on auto issues, with value leader Toyota Motor Corp. shedding ¥10, or some 0.3 percent, to ¥2,890.

On the first section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,088 to 497, with 125 remaining unchanged.

One bright spot was Sony Corp., rising ¥49, or nearly 3 percent, to ¥1,764, following the dollar’s rise to the lower ¥98 level Monday in Tokyo from the lower ¥97 level late Friday.

Katsuhiko Kodama, a senior strategist at Toyo Securities Co., said a key focus of attention for investors will be how Chinese stocks perform, given their influence on equities worldwide, as evidenced in the previous week’s trading when global equities rose on hopes for an additional economic stimulus plan in China.

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