Tokyo stocks extended losses Friday, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index falling 1.94 percent as the yen's rise against the U.S. dollar led investors to take cautious stances while the effects of China's manufacturing data continued to weigh.
Traders here said that manufacturing activity falling in China in January, coupled with some corporate earnings reports from the U.S. that came in under par, sent some investors fleeing from riskier assets and secure defensive positions on the last trading day of the week.
A strategist at Tokyo's Monex Inc. said that the China PMI had shaken overseas markets somewhat and as such risk-aversion intensified among market players Friday.
Other analysts said there was a sense of caution on the trading floor, especially as the U.S. corporate earnings came in mixed and Japan Inc. is set to release a slew of quarterly earnings reports forthwith.
Toyo Securities Co.'s Hiroaki Hiwada mentioned that indications of a slowdown in China's economy could adversely affect other countries and in the meantime market players here were being cautious.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 304.33 points from Thursday to close the week at 15,391.56, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange lost 22.92 points, or 1.78 percent, to finish at 1,264.60.
With the U.S. dollar plunging more than 1 yen overnight to around the 102 yen mark, Japan's export-related issues took a pummeling at the end of the week as they rely on a weak yen to boost their competitiveness overseas and profits made there when repatriated into Japanese currency.
Toyota Motor, the world's largest carmaker, subsequently skidded down 1.4 percent to 6,170 yen, while smaller rival Honda Motor dropped 2.4 percent to close at 3,995 yen.
Nissan, meanwhile, reversed 0.21 percent to 932 yen, following a report in the Nikkei business daily stating that the Japanese automaker and France's Renault are planning to increase their cost- cutting initiatives.
According to the report, Nissan and Renault plan to unite their production and research and development facilities and may save as much as 3.8 billion U.S. dollars per year, the article said.
Sony, maker of Bravia LCD TVs and Vaio notebook PCs, shed 0.05 percent to finish the week at 1,763 yen, while Yaskawa Electric plunged 6.5 percent to 1,509 yen, following poor earnings reports.
Among other notable issues Friday, Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo chain of high street clothes stores, retreated 1.57 percent to 38,215 yen and Japan's top bank Mitsubishi UFJ relinquished 1.93 percent to close at 660 yen.
Pharmaceutical firm Daiichi Sankyo tumbled 6.4 percent to 1,780 yen, following the company saying the U.S. FDA issued an alert connected to food made at one of the company's subsidiaries in India.
China-related issues also failed to gain traction, with industrial equipment maker Komatsu losing 1.4 percent to 2,110 yen, while Hitachi Construction dropped 1.8 percent to end the week at 2,133 yen.
Trading volume on Friday rose to 3.17 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, up from Thursday's volume of 2.90 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 1,620 to 115.