LONDON (CNNfn) - Tokyo's blue-chip stock index crumbled on Thursday in the wake of another sell-off on U.S. markets as expectations of higher interest rates and slower global growth sent investors scurrying from equities.|
The region's other markets also posted heavy losses. That followed a 5.6 percent slide in the Nasdaq composite Wednesday, while the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1.6 percent.
Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 tumbled 819 points, or 4.6 percent, to close at 16,882.46, just above its session nadir. It was the Nikkei's lowest point since October last year.
Singapore's Straits Times slumped 2.6 percent to end at 2,003.72, and smaller markets all posted sharp losses. Hong Kong and Seoul were closed for public holidays.
In the currency markets, the Nikkei's losses helped the dollar to advance against the yen, rising to about ¥109.90 from ¥109.53 in New York late Wednesday. The euro eased to $90.40 from $0.9067 the previous day.
Tokyo brokerages crumble
Tokyo suffered widespread declines, with technology and cyclical consumer shares bearing the brunt of the sell-off, though some shares in "old-economy" industries advanced as investors sought safe havens.
Analysts said the retreat of overseas investors was the dominant feature Thursday.
"The selling will likely ease this month, but strong buying won't return for a while longer -- as long as U.S. markets are down," Kazunori Jinnai, general manager at Daiwa Securities SB Capital Markets, told Reuters.
The country's largest brokerages all tumbled on expectation that the Nikkei's weakness would dent earnings. Daiwa Securities fell 9.8 percent, Nikko Securities lost 4 percent and Nomura Securities tumbled 5.9 percent.
Among electronics shares, Sony closed down 3.1 percent, Toshiba fell 5.8 percent and Canon lost 7.8 percent.
Matsushita Electronics Industries, the world's largest consumer-electronics maker, crashed 9.1 percent after posting net earnings of ¥159.1 billion ($1.46 billion), down 17.9 percent, for the year ended Mar. 31.
NTT DoCoMo, the world's second-largest mobile-phone operator, ended 6.7 percent lower.
Among the few gainers, Tokyo Gas was the most heavily traded stock on the Nikkei 225, up 3.7 percent as investors sought a haven in industrial holdings. Nissan Motor rose 0.4 percent after announcing a network joint venture with Japan Telecom, though its new partner closed down 5.5 percent.
Sydney's S&P/ASX200 index ended down 1.54 percent at 2,996, depressed by a 5.7 percent fall in News Corp. even after the media conglomerate said third-quarter earnings rose to A$300 million ($174 million) from A$263 million a year earlier, in line with expectations.
Taiwan's TAIEX index closed down 2.45 percent at a year-to-date low of 8,349.91 as the Nasdaq decline hit technology stocks and chipmakers.
Manila's PHS Composite ended down 1.2 percent at 1,505.21, an 18-month low.
The Set 50 in Bangkok closed 2 percent lower at 336.54, having already fallen almost 10 percent so far this week. Kuala Lumpur's KLSE Composite lost 1.26 percent to end at 920.71 and the JSX index in Jakarta slid 3.5 percent to 529.20.
-- from staff and wire reports