RTTNews - A stronger yen, possibility of a sharp drop in the consolidated pretax profit of Japan Inc. in fiscal 2009 and renewed concerns over the spread of the swine flu triggered some heavy selling in the Japanese stock market on Monday. Weak cues from Wall Street weighed in as well.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index opened with a negative gap of nearly 100 points at 9,167 and is currently trading at 8,998, down 267.28 points or 2.88% from its previous close.

Shares of Mizuho Financial Group Inc. fell sharply after the group announced that net profit from core operations at its three banks slid 33% to 576.6 billion yen in fiscal 2008. The stock is currently trading at 532 yen, down 3 yen from its previous closing price.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Shizuoka Bank and Resona Holdings are also trading sharply lower. Shensei Bank, Bank of Yokohoma and Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. are down modestly while Fukuoka Financial Group is bucking the trend and trading with a modest gain.

Automobile stocks are trading weak with Hondo Motor, Toyota Motor Corp., Suzuki Motor, Fuji Heavy Industries, Nissan Motor and Mazda Motor losing substantially. Oil, steel, metal, construction and machinery stocks are also trading sharply lower.

Shares of consumer electronics maker Panasonic Corp. fell more than 8% following an announcement from the company that it is likely to book a group net loss of 195 billion yen in the year ending March. In fiscal 2008, the company had logged a group net loss of 378.9 billion yen.

In the currency market, the Yen is trading at 94.81 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Singapore and Korea are trading sharply lower. The New Zealand market is down modestly while Shanghai is trading flat.

Most of the markets in the Asia-Pacific region ended on a buoyant note Friday as investors rushed in to pick up stocks on strong Wall Street cues.

The trend in major European markets was mixed. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index closed up 0.4 percent.

Giving up early gains, Wall Street ended on a weak note Friday as investors pressed sales on concerns over a possible drop in energy demand. None too impressive economic data and auto major General Motors' plan to significantly reduce its dealers network also contributed to the weak close.

The major averages all finished the day firmly in negative territory after ending the previous session notably higher. The Dow closed down 62.68 points or 0.8 percent at 8,268.64, the Nasdaq closed down 9.07 points or 0.5 percent at 1,680.14 and the S&P 500 closed down 10.19 points or 1.1 percent at 882.88.

The economic calendar is relatively light this week, but traders are likely to keep an eye on reports on housing starts, leading economic indicators, and Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity. The Federal Reserve is also due to release the minutes of its latest meeting.

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