March 20, 2014 / 6:15 AM / 4 years ago

Nikkei slumps to 6-week lows after Yellen's rate comment jolts markets

TOKYO, March 20 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks tumbled to a
six-week low on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet
Yellen raised the prospect of interest rate hikes starting
earlier than previously thought, sparking a selloff in equities
before a three-day weekend.
    The Nikkei share average ended 1.7 percent lower at
14,224.23, the lowest closing level since Feb. 6. For the week,
the index dropped 0.7 percent. Markets in Japan will shut on
Friday for a public holiday.
    On Wednesday, Yellen said the Fed might end its bond-buying
program this fall, and could start to raise interest rates
around six months later, earlier than most analysts had
    The broader Topix index dropped 1.6 percent to
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, a gauge comprising
firms with high return on equity and strong corporate
governance, was down 1.4 percent at 10,390.25.

 (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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