Tokyo stocks slumped to a fresh two- and-a-half month low Thursday, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index losing 2.45 percent as investor jitters were amplified by the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to cut stimulus measures amid concerns over emerging economies' currencies.
Local traders pointed to the Fed's decision to reduce its monthly bond purchases by 10 billion U.S. dollars, marking the second consecutive month of cutting stimulus measures in bid to rein in interest rates, as sending U.S. shares lower overnight and dampening investor sentiment here.
Despite the Fed saying in a statement that economic activity had picked up and the tapering move being widely expected by markets, the news sent the dollar lower versus the Japanese yen, to around the 102 yen line, down from the 103 yen zone logged Wednesday.
Coupled with this, the U.S. central bank omitted to mention the possible downside effects its stimulus tapering could have on emerging economies.
Masashi Akutsu, an equity strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., said that the Fed not mentioning the ongoing turmoil with emerging economies' currencies, weighed heavily on the markets here Thursday, mirroring Wall Street's losses overnight.
Other analysts pointed to specifics, such as the poor performance of Turkey's lira, despite the Turkish central bank's huge increase to its overnight lending rate to 12 percent from 7. 75 percent and its raising of its borrowing rate.
Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management, noted that the sluggish performance in emerging markets may continue for a while and is showing no convincing signs of abating.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 376.85 points from Wednesday to close at 15,007.06, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped 32.09 points, or 2.55 percent, to finish at 1,224.09.
Despite hopes for strong earnings reports from Japan Inc. in the upcoming days, as earnings season swings into full gear here, risk aversion among investors and the falling U.S. dollar gave Japan's export-related issues a pummeling.
Nintendo, subsequently, slumped 4.30 percent to 12,325 yen, following reports the games console maker will continue to stick to hardware development, despite poor sales yen of its Wii U console.
Among other significant decliners Thursday, Toyota dropped 2.24 percent to 5,998 yen, despite the firm announcing a record global output of vehicles on Wednesday and expectations for a record profit-making year in 2013.
The world's largest automaker said its global output of vehicles in 2013 stood at 10.12 million units, making it the first automaker to produce more than 10 million vehicles in a record- breaking year for the group.
Toyota also announced that its sales in 2013 increased 2.4 percent to 9.98 million vehicles and is eyeing a global sales increase of 4 percent on a 3 percent production rise in 2014. The automaker is also set to post a record full-year operating profit for the current business year, at more than its 2007 record of 2. 27 trillion yen, marking the first time the auto giant has exceed the 2 trillion yen mark in six years.
As Toyota skidded down another Japanese bellwether firm also lost ground, with Sony, maker of Bravia LCD TVs and PlayStation game consoles, retreating 2.30 percent to close at 1,651 yen.
Canon also closed in negative territory, slipping 1.79 percent to 3,015 yen, following the firm missing its full-year profit target on slumping sales of its digital cameras.
But some issues found traction Thursday on individual merits, with biotech firm Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories surging 19.3 percent to 1,432 yen and Japan Tissue Engineering rocketing 18,500 yen to 428,000 yen, following news that a team of Japanese researchers, led by Dr. Haruko Obokata, had made a significant breakthrough in possible regenerative medical techniques involving stem cells.
Trading volume on Thursday rose to 3.04 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, up from Wednesday's volume of 2. 36 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 1,687 to 78.