Nikkei tumbles as earthquake, strong yen reduce risk appetites

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
Nikkei tumbles as earthquake, strong yen reduce risk appetites
Credit: © Reuters.

By Joshua Hunt

TOKYO, April 18 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks tumbled on Monday morning after a stronger yen hurt the outlook for corporate profits, while risk appetites were hurt by earthquakes battering the southern island of Kyushu.

The Nikkei share average .N225 slid 3 percent to end the morning session at 16,344.09.

"We're seeing a perfect storm of the kind of negativity that feeds into people's fears and underscores the dangers lurking in a market where sentiment is very sensitive," said Stefan Worrall, director of Japan equity sales at Credit Suisse (SIX: CSGN ).

"It's unsurprising the yen's recent weakness has reversed given the sour macro sentiment arising from events like the natural disaster, the failure of the OPEC meeting to follow through on the encouraging promise it had shown, as well as smaller geopolitical risks like the impeachment going on in Brazil."

The safe-haven yen soared after global oil producers failed to agree on an output freeze, sending oil prices into a fresh tailspin. The yen neared an 18-month high against the U.S. dollar, trimming the profit outlook for exporters and a broad swath of other Japanese shares.

Tire exporter Bridgestone Corp 5108.T fell 2.6 percent during the morning , while home appliance exporter Panasonic Corp 6752.T slid 4 percent.

Some major exporters suffered steeper declines due to supply-chain disruptions and uncertainty stemming from the Kyushu earthquakes, which caused 42 confirmed deaths and displaced about 110,000 people. of Sony Corp 6758.T plunged 5.4 percent after the electronics giant said its image sensors plant in Kumamoto, hit by the quake, would remain suspended.

Auto exporter Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T tumbled 5.1 percent after announcing it would suspend production at plants across Japan after the quakes disrupted its supply chain. Motor Co 7267.T ended the morning session 4.5 percent lower after saying its motorcycle plant near Kumamoto would remain idle through Friday.

"Many are waiting for the dust to settle as it is not yet possible to quantify the damage in its entirety," said Martin King, co-managing director at Tyton Capital Advisors.

Fukuoka Financial 8354.T fell 5.7 percent and market players said Kyushu's regional banks may require policy relief to cope with fresh woes so soon after struggling under the Bank of Japan's surprise adoption of negative interest rates.

Kyushu Electric Power Co 9508.T tumbled 7.3 percent as about 38,000 households remained without electricity. Shares of Saibu Gas Co Ltd 9536.T slid 3.5 percent after it suspended supply to about 105,000 households around Kumamoto.

The Topix subindex for insurance shares .IINSU.T ended the morning session 5.4 percent lower, weighed down by property and casualty insurers.

The broader Topix .TOPX declined 2.9 percent to end the morning session at 1,321.98 with all but one of its 33 subindexes down. The construction sector .ICNST.T edged up 0.3 percent in anticipation of reconstruction projects.

The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 .JPXNK400 fell 2.9 percent to 11,952.29. (Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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