Japanese carmakers in September had their worst month of US sales for 17 years.

Shares in the sector led Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 to its lowest close in more than three years yesterday.

Financial stocks continued to rally after the US Senate’s decision to approve the revised $700bn bailout package for Wall Street.

Money market rates fell as central banks in Japan and Australia added nearly $12bn of liquidity between them to help lower the cost of banks borrowing from each other.

The Nikkei 225 Average fell 1.9 per cent to 11,154.76, its lowest level since May 2005.

Meanwhile, the broader-based Topix index dropped 2.2 per cent to 1,076.97 – a four-year closing low.

Carmakers were primarily to blame following tumbling sales in the US in September.

Overall, it was the industry’s worst monthly performance in its key export market since 1991.

Toyota Motor, Japan’s biggest car maker, fell by 3.4 per cent to Y4,310 after American sales dropped by 32 per cent.

Honda, whose US sales dropped 21 per cent, fell 4.5 per cent to Y3,000, while Nissan fell 4 per cent to Y668 after a 34 per cent drop in US sales.

Sales at Mazda, which is one-third owned by Ford, dropped by 36 per cent last month in the US and its share price lost 11.8 per cent to Y365. Isuzu Motors fell 6.1 per cent to Y263, while Hino Motors fell 5.8 per cent to Y409.

Manufacturers of electronic equipment were hit by fears a global economic slowdown would dent sales and exports.

Sony fell 5.9 per cent to Y3,020. Pioneer lost 6.7 per cent to Y650 and Casio Computer lost 6.9 per cent to Y919.

Hong Kong’s stock market reopened to gains after Wednesday’s National Day holiday. The main financial sector ended higher, although Hang Seng Bank fell 8.9 per cent to HK$131.50 after saying it had exposure to debt issued by the failed US bank, Washington Mutual.

However, HSBC, Hang Seng’s parent, rose 1.5 per cent to HK$123.60.

China’s second-biggest insurer Ping An jumped 13.8 per cent to HK$50.

It was suspended for part of the day ahead of its official announcement that it was to abandon a plan to pay €2.15bn ($3bn) for half of the asset management arm of Fortis, the Belgo-Dutch financial group which was partially nationalised on Monday.

China Life, the country’s largest insurer, rose 3.3 per cent to HK$29.50.

The Hang Seng index finished 1.1 per cent higher at 18,211.11, but markets in China remained closed for the golden week holiday.

Australian banks were broadly higher. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s biggest lender rose by 1.2 per cent to A$45.40 and Westpac Banking gained as much as 3.4 per cent, before closing 1.1 per cent higher at A$23.51.

But the rally in financial stocks failed to offset a fall in miners and energy producers, leaving the main S&P/ASX 200 index 0.7 per cent lower at 4,761.1.

In South Korea, the Kospi closed 1.4 per cent lower at 1,419.65 after Moody’s Investor Service lowered its outlook on the country’s top four banks from “stable” to “negative” in the previous session. Among them, Shinhan Financial Group fell 1.2 per cent to Won41,300.

In Taiwan, the Taiex ended down by 1 per cent lower at 5,703.72.

India was closed for a public holiday, as were markets in Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan.

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