RTTNews - With the weak close on Wall Street on Friday and a stronger yen triggering a fairly heavy sell-off across the board, the Japanese market is trading sharply lower on Monday.

According to the data released by the Cabinet Office this morning, Japan's gross domestic product expanded by a price-adjusted 0.9% quarter on quarter in the April-June period, with the annualized 3.7% growth the first uptick in five quarters, but the mood remains quite negative with the figures falling short of expectations.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index, which opened more 75 points down at 10,521 this morning and plunged to 10,348.8, is currently trading at 10,362, down 235.5 points or 2.22% from its previous close. The Nikkei had ended at a 10-month high of 10,597 on Friday, gaining 80.1 points, or 0.76%.

Toyota Motor Corp., Sony Corp. and several other exporters are drifting down sharply today on weak Wall Street cues and disappointing GDP data.

Shares of TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK encountered selling Monday morning, after the firm said Friday evening that it expects a group net loss of 5 billion yen in the year ending December, rather than a profit of 9 billion yen as previously forecast. The stock fell as much as 24 yen down to 907 yen. The company posted a 79.2 billion yen profit in fiscal 2008, but its bottom line is now under pressure amid rising crude oil prices.

Healthcare stock Daiwabo Holdings rose sharply this morning as renewed fears over the swine influenza raised expectations that the antiviral mask maker will see increased sales.

Taiko Pharmaceutical Co., a seller of infection-control products, opened the day bid-only before rising sharply. Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., which sells Tamiflu, and Daiichi Sankyo Co., a firm which is developing a new anti-flu agent, are also trading notably higher.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 94 yen zone earlier this morning, down slightly from its levels Friday in New York. The dollar fetched 94.70-75 yen against Friday's close of 95.19-22 yen in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 94.52 against the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand, Korea and Singapore are trading sharply lower. Australia, Indonesia and Taiwan are also trading weak. Stock markets across the region had finished mostly higher on Friday.

On Wall Street, hurt by disappointing economic data, stocks finished notably lower on Friday despite a late pullback. The decline in equities came following the release of Reuters and the University of Michigan's preliminary report on consumer sentiment for the month of August, which showed that the consumer sentiment index unexpectedly decreased compared to the previous month.

Coupled with disappointing retail sales figures released earlier in the week, the data indicated that the American consumer is still struggling, prompting the pullback by stocks.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index was unchanged in July after increasing by an unrevised 0.7 percent in June. The lack of growth in consumer prices came in line with the expectations of economists.

The Dow closed down by 76.79 points or 0.8% at 9,321.40, the Nasdaq declined by 23.83 points or 1.2% to 1,985.52 and the S&P 500 slipped by 8.64 points or 0.9% to 1004.09.

Major European markets closed notably lower, with the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index falling by 0.8% and 0.9% respectively, while the German DAX index posted a loss of 1.7%.

Crude oil plunged on Friday amid energy demand concerns after a disappointing consumer sentiment report in the U.S. The drop took oil to its lowest closing level of the month. Light sweet crude oil for September delivery declined to US$67.51 per barrel, down US$3.01 on the session. Prices touched a low of US$67.12 per barrel during the day.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com