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Japanese Stocks Fall After Poor U.S. Data

Sun Aug 8, 2004

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average was down 1.67 percent by late morning trade on Monday as investors sold brokerage Daiwa Securities Group Inc. and its rivals after weak U.S. jobs data fanned concerns about the U.S. economy.

Technology and auto exporters also wilted after a dismal U.S. jobs report for July had market players increasingly worried that the U.S. economic recovery could be losing steam.

As of 9:29 p.m. EDT Sunday, the Nikkei average was down 183.40 points at 10,789.17. It earlier fell more than 2 percent to 10,737.42, its lowest intraday since May 19.

The TOPIX index was down 1.35 percent at 1,092.22.

"U.S. consumer spending, job conditions and share prices have all turned lower since June. That makes us fear that the economy there is not facing a temporary slowdown, but rather is stalling," said Koichi Seki, equity manager at Chuo Securities.

"That hit major Japanese stocks, even domestic-business companies such as NTT and Softbank," he said.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT), Japan's biggest telecoms company, lost 2.24 percent to 523,000 yen and Internet service provider Softbank Corp. fell 1.56 percent to 3,790 yen.

Daiwa, Japan's second-biggest brokerage, lost 2.86 percent to 712 yen, helping send the sector sub-index down 2.46 percent.

But aggressive selling was curbed after a wave of initial sell-offs faded.

Analysts said investors mostly were taking a wait-and-see attitude until they saw what the U.S. Federal Reserve had to say about the U.S. economy, the world's largest and Japan's main export market.

Analysts in Tokyo said they still expected the Fed to raise rates on Tuesday when it holds a policy-setting meeting, although the jobs report may make the U.S. central bank less aggressive about tightening later this year.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's second-biggest auto maker and the most active issue by value, fell 0.72 percent to 4,130 yen and consumer electronics giant Sony Corp. was down 1.87 percent at 3,680 yen.

Sharp Corp. sank 3.54 percent to 1,499 yen, adding to a 2.33 percent fall on Friday following media reports that Hitachi Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Toshiba Corp. appeared likely to join forces in the production of large liquid crystal displays (LCDs).
The reports underscored investor concerns about the fast-growing but highly competitive industry. Sharp is the world's biggest maker of LCD televisions.

Bucking the downtrend, UFJ Holdings Inc., which is in merger talks with Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group Inc., was up 3.75 percent at 443,000 yen after weekend media reports suggested a takeover battle had heated up.

The Asahi Shimbun said on Sunday that rival suitor Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group was prepared to offer up to 700 billion yen ($6.33 billion) in capital under a detailed merger plan it submitted to UFJ last week.




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