Tokyo stocks tumbled 2.45 per cent on Thursday as the market was dragged down by worries over emerging markets, after the US Federal Reserve further scaled back its stimulus programme.
The benchmark Nikkei-225 index slumped 376.85 points to 15,007.06 – wiping out its 2.70 per cent gain on Wednesday. The Topix index of all first-section shares fell 2.55 per cent, or 32.09 points, to 1,224.09.
“The turmoil in emerging markets does not look like it’s close to dying down,” Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.
“While the continuation of the Fed’s tapering programme implies higher US interest rates, a stronger dollar and a weaker yen – all of which are fundamentally positive for Japan stocks – the ‘risk-off’ investor mood and jolt to the world’s growth markets is trumping these facts.”
The Fed said on Wednesday it would reduce its monetary easing programme by US$10 billion a month to US$65 billion, following a similar move announced in December.
Investors grew cautious after the announcement, which stoked fears of a capital flight from emerging markets as dealers look for safer investments back home.
Fed policymakers made no mention of the emerging market woes, leaving investors with little comfort, analysts said.
“They could have said something like they would be ‘watching the situation closely’,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.
“With that, the market atmosphere would be very different now.”
The Fed’s stimulus has been widely credited with buoying global equity markets and the latest move, though widely expected, may do little to stoke optimism among jittery investors.
US stocks slumped, with the Dow falling 1.15 per cent, the S&P 500 off 1.01 per cent and the Nasdaq down 1.14 per cent.
In Tokyo, Nintendo shares tumbled 4.30 per cent to 12,325 yen as the struggling Japanese video games giant said it would stick to its hard-hit console business despite slumping sales.
The drop comes after Nintendo announced a share buy-back plan and a pay cut for its president, following a dive in earnings.
Other export-linked shares also lost ground. Toyota fell 2.24 per cent to 5,998 yen while Sony declined 2.30 per cent to 1,651 yen.
Canon fell 1.79 per cent to 3,015 yen after it missed its full-year profit target due to slumping demand for its digital cameras as consumers increasingly turn to smartphones for taking pictures.
In forex trade, the dollar fetched 102.44 yen compared with 102.25 yen in New York but well down from the 103.30 yen in Asia earlier Wednesday.
Hong Kong shares closed 0.48 per cent lower in half-day trading on Thursday because of the Lunar New Year holiday.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 106.19 points to end at 22,035.42 on turnover of HK$49.27 billion (US$6.36 billion).