HONG KONG -- Japanese stocks fell to their lowest level in almost a year, as markets across Asia took a pounding following Friday's steep drop in the U.S.
As the possibility of higher American interest rates fed fears of a slowdown in exports from Asia, there was no short-term end in sight for the decline in Japanese equities, with the June Nikkei futures contract trading at a 1% discount to the cash market. Elsewhere in Asia, real estate companies were also hit, and technology issues were singled out for particular punishment after the
sharp fall on Friday.
index fell 472.16 points, or 2.8%, to 16,386.01, while the
index, which includes all shares listed on the
Tokyo Stock Exchange's
first section, fell 55.88 to 1522.49 The
small-cap index lost 5.29, or 6.1%, to 81.27 while the Nikkei
index shed 82.13, or 4.5%, to 1745.39.
tumbled 550 yen, or 5%, to 10,280, and
lost 125 or 4% to 2955.
fell 70, or 2% to 2825, while internet investor
plunged 2000, or 10.7%, to 16,600.
Telecoms fared nearly as badly as Softbank.
Nippon Telegraph & Telephone
fell 80,000 or 6.25% to 1.2 million, while
plunged 280,000 or 9% to 2.84 million.
fell 48, or 2.8% to 1670, after the
Nihon Keizai Shimbun
newspaper reported that the company's president would resign to take responsibility for poor sales of the company's
game consoles. Sega's chairman will reportedly take on the president's job. In the year to March 31, Sega reported its third consecutive net loss.
Hong Kong stocks were also sharply lower, with real estate issues particularly hard-hit, because higher U.S. rates inevitably mean higher rates in Hong Kong due to the Hong Kong dollar's peg to the greenback. The
index lost 337.53 points, or 2.3%, to 14140.73. Property developer
Sun Hung Kai Properties
fell HK$2.25, or 4.4%, to 49.00. Conglomerate
fell 3.25 or 3.4% to 91.75, but its parent, real estate developer
defied the trend and actually rose 0.50 to 73.75. Cheung Kong was hammered last week when Morgan Stanley Capital International announced the company would be removed from the MSCI Hong Kong index.
lost 2.20 or 4.3% to 48.80, as investors continued to sell in order to raise money for the imminent IPO of the company's competitor,
In addition, the fact that ChinaTel trades at 130 times earnings may have unsettled some traders watching the global sell-off in Internet and telecom issues. Internet investor
Pacific Century CyberWorks,
which has yet to begin selling its own satellite-delivered broadband access and content, fell 0.65, or 4.3% to 14.45. Banking group
fell 0.50 to 83.25.
index fell 61.17 points, or 3.1%, to 1931.25, while Korea's
index tumbled 39.07 points, or 5.35% to 691.61.
fell 11,500 won, or 3.3%, to 333,500. Mobile phone powerhouse
lost 31,000 or 8.1% to 350,000.
In currency trading the dollar weakened slightly to 106.96 yen, because despite the selling of yen by foreigners leaving the stock market, expectations that economic growth will continue to recover in Japan helped the yen fight off any losses that might have occurred. Many in the market expect the yen to trade between 105 and 110 to the dollar until the middle of next month at the earliest, when general elections in Japan are held, and when first-quarter GDP figures are announced.