• Kyodo News


The Nikkei stock average closed below the key 9,000 mark Tuesday at a nearly 16-month low as a stronger yen heightened worries about the economy amid inaction by authorities to rein in the currency’s advance.

The 225-issue average ended 121.55 points, or 1.33 percent, lower from Monday at 8,995.14, the lowest closing since May 1 last year, when it finished at 8,977.37.

The broader Topix index of all first section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 7.06 points, or 0.86 percent, at 817.73.

Nearly all 33 sectors on the TSE lost ground, with the mining sector being the biggest loser, followed by the air transport and consumer finance sectors. The only gainers were the sectors covering pharmaceuticals, fisheries and forestry, and electricity and gas.

“The market is demanding policy action,” said Toshikazu Horiuchi, equity strategist at Cosmo Securities Co., adding that authorities’ reluctance to act disappointed investors.

“It all comes down to whether they have a sense of urgency. . . . Japan is apparently lagging behind the United States and Europe in terms of policy action,” Horiuchi added.

Growing concerns that the global economic recovery is stalling continued to undermine investor sentiment, triggering selling of risky assets such as stocks, brokers said.

U.S. stocks ended in negative territory overnight, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing at a one-month low.

On the domestic front, the persistent strength of the yen has been a major concern for investors after much-anticipated talks between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa ended Monday with no specific measures to counter the strong yen.

Exporter stocks were broadly lower as the dollar traded in the upper ¥84 zone when the TSE closed, within sight of a 15-year low of ¥84.72 hit earlier this month. The euro briefly hit the lowest level in eight years and nine months in Tokyo.

A strong yen erodes exporters’ overseas profits when repatriated and can hurt the export-reliant economy.

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