Tokyo extends fall as rest of Asia starts to recover

Most of Asia’s stock markets staged cautious recovery on Friday, with the exception of Tokyo, where a continued fall in the Nikkei 225 Average erased the last remnants of the index’s 2007 gains.

Following wild swings in European and US markets overnight, Chinese stocks rebounded strongly, as investors judged the tumble this week, the worst for a decade, had left some stocks underpriced. The Shanghai Composite Index, gained 1.3 per cent to 2833.45.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged up 0.68 per cent by late morning, South Korea’s Kopsi added 0.3 per cent, while Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite Index jumped 3 per cent. But Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.4 per cent.

In Japan, stocks were hit by continued global fears, and by the recent strengthening of the yen – although the Japanese currency was showing signs of stabilising against the dollar in morning trading.

By the day’s close the Nikkei 225 was down 1.4 per cent to 17,217.93. The broader Topix declined 1.1 per cent to 1,721.59.

The heavily export-focused electrical machinery sector dropped 2.1 per cent, hit by recent dollar weakness. The strongly international auto sectors fell 1.7 per cent.

On Thursday the dollar slipped to an 11-week low against the yen, although by Friday it had recovered a touch, to trade in Tokyo’s mid-afternoon at around Y117.6.

Toyota, Japan’s biggest carmaker, was down 1.9 per cent to Y7,710. Matsushita Electric Industrial, the world’s largest consumer electronics maker under the Panasonic brand, declined 1.9 per cent to Y2,315.

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone plunged 3.4 per cent to Y602,000 after forecasting a halving in profit at its fixed-line business in the next business year. The company cited rising costs to sign up subscribers to fibre-optic internet services, and falling revenues from telephone calls.

Shares in Softbank, the communications conglomerate, appeared to be steadying after two days of sharp falls following the release of a report from brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets warning of accounting “red flags”. Although Softbank ended the day down 1.3 per cent at Y2,740, this was a modest fall compared with earlier drops, and more or less in line with the market average. The stock remains up on the beginning of the year, following its erstwhile share price rally.

Fujiya, the confectionary maker, jumped 3.1 per cent to Y264 after saying it would soon resume cake production that had been suspended following the revelation it had been using old ingredients.

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