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Nikkei falls for sixth straight session on Wall Street and futures sell-offs

JIJI

The benchmark Nikkei average extended its losing streak to a sixth session on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Wednesday, battered by sell-offs on Wall Street and in the futures market.

The 225-issue Nikkei average lost 193.68 points, or 0.83 percent, to end at 23,098.29. The key price gauge gave up 337.37 points Tuesday.

The Topix index of all first-section issues finished down 21.42 points, or 1.15 percent, at 1,836.71, after shedding 22.32 points the previous day.

The Tokyo market got off to a dismal start after U.S. equities plummeted for the second consecutive day Tuesday, with the Nikkei average losing over 100 points right after the opening bell.

Quickly cutting initial losses thanks to buying on dips, the Nikkei fluctuated narrowly around the previous day’s closing level for the rest of the morning session. Such buying continued into afternoon trading, pushing up the benchmark index by over 80 points at one point.

However, the market sank deep into negative territory toward the day’s closing, dragged down by futures-led speculative selling, market sources said.

Before taking the sharp downturn, stocks were mixed reflecting earnings results and estimates released so far by Japanese companies, an official of a bank-affiliated securities firm said.

The official also said buying of some electronics firms with robust earnings underpinned the market while sluggish performance of U.S. stocks weighed on its top side.

The Japanese and U.S. markets have entered “a correction phase” following their rapid advance from the beginning of this year, said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co.

Ichikawa, however, pointed out that Tokyo stocks are likely to stage a rally on brisk earnings reports to be released by Japanese firms later.

Falling issues far outnumbered rising ones 1,619 to 388 in the TSE’s first section, while 56 issues were unchanged.

Volume grew to 1.82 billion shares, from Tuesday’s 1.70 billion shares.

Semiconductor-related Tokyo Electron Ltd. lost 4.73 percent as its April-December operating profit failed to meet market consensus.

Other major losers included mobile phone carriers Softbank Group Corp. and KDDI Corp. as well as automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

By contrast, technology firm Canon Inc. rose 2.50 percent thanks to its strong earnings forecast for the year ending in December.

Electronic parts supplier Alps Electric Co. was also buoyant on an upward revision in its operating profit estimate for the year through March.