TOKYO, June 21 (Reuters) - Japanese shares slumped on Monday, tracking Wall Street’s sharp decline over the weekend, after Federal Reserve official James Bullard surprised markets by signalling that the U.S. central bank might raise interest rates sooner than expected.
Heavy selling was seen across almost all sectors, with the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry sub-indexes trading lower, while just one stock climbed in the benchmark Nikkei.
The Nikkei share average fell below 28,000 for the first time since May 20 after losing 3.54% to 27,938.16 by 0205 GMT, while the broader Topix slipped 2.69% to 1,894.23.
“The Japanese market is reacting too much. First of all, rate hikes are signs of an economic recovery,” Shuji Hosoi, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities, said.
The three main Wall Street indexes finished sharply lower on Friday, after investors were spooked by hawkish interest rate comments by Bullard.
“But Japan needs to find its own consistent reason for a market rebound as Japanese companies are already speeding up vaccine rollouts for their employees. A steady vaccine rollout could be a major reason for an economic recovery.”
Index heavyweights fell sharply, with Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing losing 3.75% to its lowest since last November.
Tech start-up investor SoftBank Group fell 3.7% after the Wall Street Journal reported that Chief Executive Masayoshi Son dissolved his long-standing personal lending with Credit Suisse.
Chip-related shares also dragged the Nikkei lower, with Tokyo Electron losing 4.04%, Advantest falling 4.2%, and Shin-Etsu Chemical tanking 5.58%.
Japanese corporate giants are joining the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign ahead of the Olympic Games as the government struggles to meet its inoculation targets amid fears of a resurgence of infections.
Thousands of corporations from Toyota Motor to telecom giant SoftBank Group are setting up clinics in a massive private-sector vaccination drive, which will begin on Monday.
Among the laggards, the airline industry index fell the least, slipping 0.43%, followed by shippers and coal and oil developers, losing 0.72% and 1.16%, respectively.
Reporting by Junko Fujita, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips
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