21 January 2020, Tuesday | 04:40am

Tokyo’s Nikkei index plunges to 15-month low

2018-12-20

The Nikkei 225 index, which at one point had lost more than three per cent, closed down 2.84 per cent or 595.34 points to finish at 20,392.58, the lowest since September last year. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, Dec 20 — Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index plunged to a 15-month low today amid disappointment over the most recent meeting of the US Federal Reserve which saw the bank raise rates.

The Nikkei 225 index, which at one point had lost more than three per cent, closed down 2.84 per cent or 595.34 points to finish at 20,392.58, the lowest since September last year.

The broader Topix index dropped 2.51 per cent or 38.99 points to 1,517.16.

“Market sentiment is really weak,” said Daiwa Securities senior technical analyst Hikaru Sato.

“Trading factors were easily taken as negative,” Sato told AFP.

The Tokyo market opened lower, extending losses in US shares amid worries over the Fed’s pace of monetary tightening, analysts said.

But Ray Attrill, strategist at National Australia Bank, said the post-Fed meeting sentiment was “a bit surprising” given the bank had stressed a “gradual” pace of rate hikes next year.

“The expectation here was that all reference to ‘gradual’ could be dropped,” he said.

In addition to worries over the Fed meeting, “concerns over the slowing of the global economy also weighed on the market”, Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.

A strong yen also put downward pressure on stocks, according to Daiwa’s Sato.

The dollar fetched ¥111.92 (RM4.19) in Asian afternoon trade, against ¥112.49 in New York.

After a volatile session, shares in the mobile phone unit of Japanese technology giant SoftBank rose 1.09 per cent to ¥1,296 after a bruising debut saw stocks close nearly 15 per cent lower.

Nissan dropped 2.19 per cent to ¥901.3 after a Japanese court rejected prosecutors’ request to extend the detention of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn after his arrest for financial misconduct.

Local media said he could now be released as early as tomorrow.

In other individual stocks, Toyota lost 1.96 per cent to ¥6,629 with Honda down 2.72 per cent at ¥2,964. — AFP

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