Nikkei marks biggest fall in six months after hawkish Fed minutes

TOKYO, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei fell the most in six months on Thursday, as investors sold expensive growth stocks after hawkish U.S. Federal Reserve meeting minutes sparked a sell-off on Wall Street last night.

The Nikkei share average (.N225) closed 2.88% lower at 28,487.87, posting its biggest drop since June. The broader Topix (.TOPX) fell 2.07% to 1,997.01.

The Mothers Index (.MTHR) of start-up firms lost 4.9% to a 19-month low, losing almost 11% in the first three sessions of 2022.

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U.S. stocks fell sharply overnight, with the Nasdaq down more than 3% in its biggest drop since February, after minutes of the Fed's last meeting signalled the central bank may raise interest rates sooner than expected.

"The Nikkei extended losses because U.S. futures fell (in Asian trading hours). Investors feared the U.S. market would fall further this evening," said Kazuharu Konishi, head of equities at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management.

"Investors appeared to be almost dumping small stocks. It looks like not only individuals but also institutions are shifting their money to large, liquid and cheap stocks from smaller shares with higher valuations."

Toyota Motor (7203.T) gave up early gains to close down 0.3%, while Sony Group (6758.T) tumbled 6.9% after Wednesday's near 4% gain.

Uniqlo clothing shop owner Fast Retailing (9983.T) lost 4.9% after its December sales for existing stores fell 11.1%.

Medical equipment maker Terumo tumbled 9% after Mizuho Securities cut its target price, while medical services platform M3 (2413.T) tanked 6.7%.

Insurers (.IINSU.T) inched up 0.4% on prospects that higher interest rates could help boost their earnings, while banks (.IBNKS.T) were almost flat, with Shinsei Bank (8303.T) rising 3.3% to become the top gainer on the Nikkei.

Japan's benchmark 10-year government bond yields hit a nine-month high, tracking elevated U.S. yields. read more

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Reporting by Junko Fujita in Tokyo and Tom Westbrook in Sydney; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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