Nikkei falls to 3-week low as oil price fears offset strong machinery orders

Reuters Tokyo | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on December 09, 2015


Japan’s Nikkei share average fell to its lowest in more than three weeks on Wednesday morning after US stocks dropped on concerns over sliding oil prices, offsetting Japan’s better-than-expected machinery orders data.

The Nikkei dropped 1.1 per cent to 19,278.20 after hitting as low as 19,261.16 earlier, the lowest since November 16.

Investors remain wary

Although crude prices edged up during Asian trade after dipping below $37 per barrel overnight, global investors remain risk-averse, traders said.

They also said that lower oil prices could serve as a tailwind to Japan for lower energy prices, but the Japanese market could suffer a ripple effect as long as investors avoid risky assets.

Traders also noted that the market may see volatility ahead of Friday’s settlement in Nikkei futures and option contracts.

“Those who had bought Nikkei futures on expectations that the index will rise on ECB’s easing are looking for the right timing to sell,’’ said Michiro Naito, executive director of equity derivatives and quantitative strategies at JPMorgan, referring to last week’s event when the European Central Bank dashed the expectations for a major burst of stimulus.

He said that after data on Tuesday showed that Japan’s economy dodged recession in the third quarter, the market sees a slimmer chance of the Bank of Japan easing policy in the near term.

“The only catalyst is the Fed’s rate hike, but we think even that could be negative for the market given concerns about the health of the global economy while weak oil prices remain as a concern,’’ Naito said. “Anything could trigger selling now because investors are nervous before Friday’s settlement.’’

The pharmaceutical, insurance and iron & steel sectors underperformed. Takeda Pharmaceutical dropped 1.5 per cent, Dai-ichi Life Insurance tumbled 3.5 per cent and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal shed 1.4 per cent.

Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp rising 1.0 per cent, Nissan Motor Co adding 0.1 per cent and Panasonic Corp falling 2.1 per cent.

Machinery orders

Japan’s core machinery orders unexpectedly jumped in October by the most since March 2014, a strong resumption of investment.

The broader Topix dropped 0.9 per cent to 1,554.69 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 1.0 per cent to 13,987.45.

Published on December 09, 2015
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