Japan's Nikkei stock index tumbled 1. 41 percent Friday as the yen's appreciation against the U.S. dollar and disappointing economic data from the U.S. and Europe contrived to see investors offload their positions on the last trading day of the week.
Traders here said that investors were in a risk-off mood following U.S. shares retreating overnight following tepid industrial output and housing data.
According to a report from the U.S. Federal Reserve industrial production in the U.S. unexpectedly declined in April, with output at factories, mines and utilities falling 0.6 percent after a 0.9 percent gain a month earlier.
According to the latest data, manufacturing, which makes up 75 percent of total production in the U.S., contracted 0.4 percent in the recording period.
Analysts said that coupled with disappointing stock performances in Europe which have dropped lower for a second- consecutive day causing the euro to retreat sparking speculation that the European Central Bank (ECB) may roll out further stimulus measures, due to uninspiring growth figures in Greece, France, Italy and the Netherlands. The ECB has now cut its inflation target for the region over the next few years, sparking concerns for investors who have fled from stocks to safe havens, analysts said.
The yen rising to the mid-101 U.S. dollar level, having gained gaining 0.3 percent yesterday was a bane for exporters here who rely on a weaker yen to boost their competitiveness and profits overseas, when the latter are repatriated.
The yen rose as the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield's fell below 2. 5 percent while the euro lost ground due to poor growth data.
"The U.S. Treasury yield's fall below 2.5 percent caused knee- jerk selling of Japanese stocks as it makes the dollar's upside heavy against the yen," said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Inc.
Added to the firm yen dissuading investors from buying Friday, some analysts said that amid a lack of fresh cues, investors were found lacking inspiration on the last trading day of the week.
"While the yen at this level won't be a big negative for Japanese company earnings, there aren't that many other catalysts in the market right now," said Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co. "Still, Japanese shares are cheap right now. From a long-term perspective, it may be a good time to buy."
The Nikkei Stock Average lost 201.62 points from Thursday to end the week at 14,096.59, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 19.22 points, or 1.63 percent, to finish at 1,159.07.
Toyota, the world's largest automaker, skidded down 2 percent to 5,522 yen, while Nissan Motor Co., which is heavily reliant on its North American market, reversed 2.3 percent to 894 yen.
Panasonic Corp., slumped 2.4 percent to 1,061 yen, while Japan Display plunged 12 percent to 518 yen, to mark its lowest close since fist listing in March.
Japan Display Inc., an LCD technology joint venture by Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi, announced net income will probably be 26.8 billion yen this fiscal year, far less than the 42.8 billion yen median estimates analysts' had projected.
Financial shares were also labored Friday, with Nomura Holdings, Japan's top brokerage, tumbling 1.5 percent to 609 yen, while rival Daiwa Securities Group retreated 2.8 percent to close the week at 758 yen.
Budget carrier, Skymark Airlines, dived 7.7 percent to 277 yen after announcing the company fell into the red in fiscal 2013.
Trading volume on Friday edged down to 2,041.89 million shares, on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, marginally lower than Thursday's volume of 2,042.65 million shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 1,602 to 159.