February 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST
Japan stocks tumble on yen strength
Friday, February 15, 2013 Japan stocks tumble on yen strength Japanese stocks fell sharply Friday to return most of the gains recorded earlier in the week as the yen strengthened ahead of a meeting of the world’s top finance ministers. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index doffed 133.45 points, or 1.2%, to 11,173.83 In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index took on 31.31 points, or 0.1%, to 23,444.56 The decline came as cautious investors looked ahead to a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations, amid expectations that the yen’s steep fall over the last few weeks may be in focus at the meeting. Despite the sharp fall on Friday, the Nikkei finished the week 0.2% higher, marking its 13th advance in the last 14 weeks. The U.S. dollar slipped as low as 92.22 yen during the session in Asia, from around ¥92.85 late Thursday in North America, after spending much of the week above ¥93. A strengthened yen affects the global competitiveness of Japanese products, and often tends to hurt stocks of companies reliant on overseas demand. Several currency-sensitive stocks lost ground, with Toyota Motor Corp. sliding 1.9% and Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. off 1.7%, while Panasonic Corp. shed 0.9%. Shares of Sony Corp. fell 1.9%. The Kospi ended the week 1.6% higher, and was followed by a 1.3% gain for the S&P/ASX 200 and a 1% rise for the Hang Seng Index. Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese markets, which remained closed for a holiday, are set to reopen on Monday. Downbeat earnings reports contributed to the losses in Tokyo and Sydney. Japanese steel giant Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. fell 2% after it released a weaker-than-expected earnings forecast for its fiscal year on Thursday. Kirin Holdings Co. fell 4.9% after the Japanese brewer said its 2013 pretax profit will likely fall 5% on sales promotion costs, according to a Nikkei news report. Also trending lower after its earnings report, Trend Micro Inc. lost 6.1%. Meanwhile, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. declined 1% in Sydney after the banking major reported a 20% drop in first-quarter net profit amid soft economic conditions. Miners also fared poorly, led by Rio Tinto Ltd. Rio’s shares dropped 2.7% after the mining giant Thursday reported its first fiscal-year loss. In other markets Korea’s Kospi Index edged up 1.57 points, or 0.1%, to 1,981.18 The Singapore Straits Times Index shed 7.40 points, or 0.2%, to 3,283.07 In New Zealand, the NZX 50 index deducted 42.46 points, or 1%, to 4,196.73 In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 2.96 points, or 0.1%, to 5,033.92
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