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Tokyo stocks plunged deeper into negative territory Friday on persistent profit-taking, causing the key Nikkei average to end below 28,000 for the first time in about three weeks.

The Nikkei average of 225 first-section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange lost 534.03 points, or 1.89%, to close at 27,663.39, the first finish below the psychologically important threshold since Jan. 7. On Thursday, the benchmark index dropped 437.79 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues closed 30.07 points, or 1.64%, lower at 1,808.78 after giving up 21.22 points the previous day.

The market got off to a firmer start with sentiment brightened by all three major U.S. stock indexes, including the Dow Jones industrial average, ending higher for the first time since Jan. 20 on Thursday partly thanks to improvement in the employment situation in the United States.

But selling to lock in gains from rallies earlier this month soon gathered strength.

In the afternoon, the market sank deeper into negative terrain weighed down by falls in Dow futures and other Asian stocks, forcing the Nikkei to surrender over 500 points.

While attributing Thursday’s Wall Street rally to trading restrictions by Robinhood and other brokerages, Maki Sawada, strategist at Nomura Securities Co., said concerns over market instability “grew again in the early Tokyo afternoon in the wake of Robinhood’s announcement that it will ease the restrictions.”

Meanwhile, Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., pointed out that selling began outpacing buying after U.S. hedge fund Citron Research said it would make “a major announcement that all individual investors should watch” later on Friday.

“Not knowing what would be announced, investors took to the sell side,” he added.

On the TSE’s first section, decliners outnumbered gainers 1,834 to 314, while 43 issues were unchanged. Volume shrank to 1.576 billion shares from Thursday’s 2.137 billion shares.

Canon tumbled 7.35% following its recent rises.

Telecommunications equipment-maker Anritsu turned lower after issuing a profit warning for the year ending in March.

Among other major losers were chipmaking gear-maker Tokyo Electron and Uniqlo’s Fast Retailing.

On the other hand, Oriental Land, the operator of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, advanced for the third day, thanks to its operating balance returning to the black in October-December 2020.

Realtor Mitsui Fudosan and electronics firm Fujitsu also attracted buying.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average plunged 480 points to end at 27,570.

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