TOKYO -- The newly-constituted
index took center stage in Japan again on Wednesday, pushing down some blue-chips as tech stocks rose.
Although the revamped index debuted on Monday, many foreign investors were still behind in adjusting their portfolios and were selling futures contracts in order to raise cash, traders said.
The Nikkei 225 fell 138.02 points to 18,134.31, while the
index, which includes all shares listed on the
Tokyo Stock Exchange's
first section, rose 0.16 to 1667.89. The
small-cap index jumped 6.23, or 6.8%, to 97.69, while the Nikkei
index climbed 61.55, or 3.2%, to 1984.66.
Since the new components of the Nikkei 225 can be as much as 60 times higher in price than the 30 shares that have left the index, many foreign investors this week have been selling June Nikkei 225 futures contracts to raise cash.
In addition, local dealers were also hedging in anticipation of a backlash from
secondary offering this Friday, traders added. Although recent IPOs in Japan have gone relatively well, some local investors still fear there could be disaster waiting around the corner when Oracle Japan jumps from the OTC market to the TSE's first section. June Nikkei futures, which trade on the
Osaka Stock Exchange
, shed 90.00 to 18,080.00.
Some of the new additions to the Nikkei 225, such as
were lower as investors locked in profits after shares jumped in the days, ahead of the index reshuffle. Kao shed 110 yen, or 3.3%, to 3200, while Ito-Yokado fell 390, or 4.8%, to 7760. Tech and telecom shares were higher, with
gaining 7 million, or 13.5%, to 58.95 million,
rising 70,000, or 2.0%, to 3.66 million and
climbing 2000, or 9.5%, to 23,100.
In currency dealings, the euro continued to slide against the yen and the dollar as investors lose confidence that the European Central Bank will do anything to stop the euro's slide. Even though the ECB may hike rates by 25 basis points on Thursday, dealers said the euro would still drop since the ECB's previous rate hikes did not help to strengthen the slumping currency. After the euro was sold for the dollar, dealers in turn picked up the yen. This pushed the greenback slightly lower to 105.61 yen.
index fell 152.62, or 1.0%, to 15,227.39 as investors felt uneasy about the impending release of key U.S. data on Thursday, which may indicate an interest rate hike. Strong first quarter wages and gross domestic product numbers could push the U.S.
to raise rates in mid-May, which would indicate a rate rise in Hong Kong as well, since the Hong Kong dollar currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar. After a weak land auction by the government yesterday, property shares remained weak with
falling HK$1.00, or 1.2%, to 85.50.
Although the rumors have been around for more than a week,
The Wall Street Journal
today revived talk that Australia's
could knock down
Pacific Century CyberWorks'
bid for Hong Kong phone company
Cable & Wireless HKT
. PCCW shed 0.35, or 2.6%, to 13.05, while C&W HKT rose 0.65, or 3.8%, to 17.75.
Hong Kong also launched two new indices today to track the region's tech stocks. The
Hang Seng IT
index will track the 18 largest tech shares by market capitalization, with nearly the whole index comprised of
, Cable & Wireless HKT and Pacific Century CyberWorks. The
Hang Seng IT Portfolio Index
will instead adjust the weightings so that one company will not have a weighting of more than 20%.
, the company compiling the indices, said it would release closing levels once a day until May 12, and from then onward will update them every 15 seconds during market hours.
index dropped 385.16, or 4.3%, to 8921.12 when investors fled the market after hearing that China was stepping up its naval activities off Taiwan. The
Ministry of Defense
said that China recently increased its training sessions for bomber and jet fighter crews.