Japan Stocks Suffer As Yen Rises, Oil Drops

MarketWatch Pulse

Japanese stocks belly-flopped out of the Tuesday open, with the Nikkei Stock Average dropping 2% and the Topix down 1.8% as losses for U.S. shares, oil prices and the dollar's value against the yen all dragged down the market. While further losses for the yen have provided only a marginal boost to Japanese exporter shares in recent sessions, an overnight move in the other direction -- with the dollar dropping to �119.46 from �120.33 at the previous Tokyo close -- appeared to hit currency-sensitive stocks hard, though how much of the retreat was due to other factors was difficult to discern. Among the heavy decliners, Toshiba Corp. fell 2.7%, Nintendo Co. lost 3%, Konica Minolta Inc. gave up 2.3%, and Alps Electric Co. dropped 3.7%. Auto makers also suffered, despite many of them posting solid December U.S. sales results overnight, with Toyota Motor Corp. down 1.7%, Nissan Motor Co. down 2.9%, and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. down 2.3%. Meanwhile, a plunge in oil prices in U.S. and European trade slapped Inpex Corp. down 4.3%, while Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. lost 2.8%, and JX Holdings Inc. fell 2.1%. On the other hand, the prospect of cheaper fuel allowed Skymark Airlines Inc. to zoom 4.9% higher, while Japan Airlines Co. held losses to just 0.2%. Also outperforming the market were Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. and its wireless affiliate NTT DoCoMo Inc. -- down 0.3% and 0.8%, respectively. Earlier reports said DoCoMo has requested arbitration in a dispute with India's Tata Group over DoCoMo's efforts to sell a stake in a Tata telecom unit.

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