The Japanese stock market opened on a weak note on Tuesday with the benchmark Nikkei 225 starting off with a negative gap of nearly 100 points at 9,358. Besides the fall on Wall Street, profit taking after recent strong gains and lack of corporate or economic reports appear to be the major reasons for the sell-off.
The Nikkei 225, which dropped to a low of 9,339 earlier, is currently trading 101.28 points down at 9,351.
With financial stocks taking a heavy beating on Wall Street on Monday, major bank stocks saw only sellers thronging the counters in early trading in the Japanese market. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Resona Holdings, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Trust and Banking are trading with sharp losses. Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc., Shizuoka Bank, Chiba Bank, Bank of Yokohama and Mizuho Financial Group are also trading weak.
Shares of trading companies are down with sharp losses. Securities, insurance, construction and real estate stocks are also trading sharply lower.
Chemicals are trading mixed. Pharmaceuticals and machinery stocks are exhibiting weakness. Not much buying is happening in transport, steel, shipbuilding and communications stocks as well.
Mitsubishi Materials Corp. tumbled sharply to 291 yen as investors dumped the stock in response to the company's announcement that it will swing to a group net loss of 50 billion yen for the year ending March from a 6.1 billion yen profit the previous year.
In the currency market, the Yen is traded at 97.43 to the U.S. dollar.
Other markets in the Asia-Pacific region are also trading weak today. New Zealand and Shanghai are down modestly while Australia, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan are trading with sharp losses.
Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region had closed mostly lower on Monday, as traders cashed in on the recent strength in the markets. However, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index bucked the downtrend, edging up 0.2 percent.
The major European markets also pulled back off their recent highs, with the O.K. FTSE 100 Index closing down 0.6 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index fell 1.9 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
Wall Street ended on a weak note on Monday with stocks moving mostly lower during the session as traders chose to take profits after recent strong gains. The major averages all closed firmly in negative territory, although the tech-heavy Nasal posted a relatively modest loss.
Banking stocks bore the brunt of pressure on Monday after U.S. Bancorp, BB&T and Capital One revealed plans to sell common stock in order to raise proceeds to repay funds received under the government's financial bailout program.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway's weak quarterly numbers also hurt sentiment to an extent. Berkshire Hathaway reported a first quarter net loss of $1.53 billion compared to a year-ago profit of $940 million. Berkshire Hathaway's results were hurt by a drop in revenues as well as huge investment and derivative losses primarily on write-downs on investments in ConocoPhillips.
In other news, President Barack Obama spoke earlier in the day, saying that a meeting with leading health care groups resulted in a pledge to reduce health care costs by $2 trillion over the next decade.
The president said that the health care groups have voluntarily come together to make an unprecedented commitment to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year over the next ten years. Obama also urged Congress to work to reform health care by the end of the year, stressing that reform went beyond reducing costs.
The Dow fell 155.88 points or 1.8 per cent to 8,418.77 and the S&P 500 closed down 19.99 points or 2.2 percent at 909.24. The Nasdaq closed down only 7.76 points or 0.5 percent at 1,731.24.
Crude oil contracts opened the session significantly lower. The contracts recovered the majority of losses, unlike in the equity markets, where losses have accelerated. June crude oil closed at $58.53 per barrel, fractionally lower.
On Tuesday, trading could be impacted by the release of the Commerce Department's report on the U.S. trade deficit for the month of March. The deficit is expected to widen to $29.0 billion from $26.0 billion in February.
There are other key economic reports due to be released later in the week, including reports on retail sales, industrial production, and producer and consumer price inflation. Traders are also likely to keep a close eye on the weekly jobless claims report.
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