October 8, 2013 / 2:06 AM / 4 years ago

Nikkei falls to 5-week low on U.S. shutdown, debt ceiling impasse

* Nikkei drops 0.3 pct, Topix down 0.3 pct
    * U.S. fiscal standoff continues to weigh on sentiment
    * Mid-term outlook for Nikkei remain strong - analysts

    By Tomo Uetake
    TOKYO, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
declined for the fifth straight day to a five-week low on
Tuesday morning, with a lack of progress in ending the U.S.
government shutdown or the debt-ceiling standoff kept investors
on edge.
    The benchmark Nikkei was down 0.3 percent at
13,808.69, its lowest level since Sept. 3, in midmorning trade,
after shedding 4.4 percent in the past four sessions. The index
is still up 33 percent this year.
    "The cause of the fall is crystal clear, it's the U.S.
congress standoff, which is completely external to Japan. Nobody
thinks the Tokyo market will go into a freefall situation," said
Kenichi Hirano, strategist at Tachibana Securities. "Its longer-
term outlook is still strong."
    There were signs of stepped-up efforts in Washington on
Monday to resolve the fiscal crisis, with President Barack Obama
saying he would accept a short-term increase in the country's
borrowing authority in order to avoid a crisis.
    But seven days into a government shutdown and only 10 days
from a critical deadline to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, nothing
amounting to a breakthrough was in sight. 
    "Once the government shutdown ends and the debt ceiling gets
increased and the earnings season gets into full swing, the
Nikkei will resume its rally," said Shun Maruyama, chief Japan
equity strategist at BNP Paribas.
    "Except that some hedge funds are trimming their positions, 
investors have largely moved to the sidelines. For them, there's
not much reason to trade today."
    The broader Topix shed 0.3 percent to 1,144.35 in
relatively light trade, with volume at 38.5 percent of its full
daily average for the past 90 trading days.
    E-commerce related shares fell sharply after Yahoo Japan
Corp said on Monday it would eliminate some charges on
sellers on its site, sparking concerns of tougher competition.
Yahoo shares fell 10.3 percent to become the eighth-most traded
stock by turnover on the main board, while rival Rakuten Inc 
 plunged 13.8 percent.
    Investors are also focusing on domestic corporate earnings
reports.
    FamilyMart Co Ltd bucked the overall weakness and
gained 1.1 percent after the convenience store operator said on
Monday that its recurring profits in the March-August period
rose 3.1 percent on the year to hit a record high.

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