Nikkei ends at 3-month low on sluggish tech shares

Tokyo's Nikkei stock index ended at a three-month low Friday on sluggish technology shares that tracked a plunge of the Nasdaq index amid persistent fears over aggressive interest rate hikes in the United States.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 484.84 points, or 1.83 percent, from Thursday at 25,937.21, the lowest since July 1. The broader Topix index finished 32.86 points, or 1.76 percent, lower at 1,835.94.
On the top-tier Prime Market, decliners were led by transportation equipment, electric appliance, and machinery issues.
The U.S. dollar was trading around the mid-144 yen level after briefly climbing to the upper 144 yen range in Tokyo in line with a rise in long-term U.S. Treasury yields during after-hours trading, dealers said.
The Japanese government will release later in the day the figure for its yen-buying intervention last week, when the dollar surged to near 146 yen.
"If market participants feel that the impact of the operation was limited for the amount employed, they may test the 145 yen line," said Takuya Kanda, senior researcher at the Research Institute.
Japanese shares were sold from the outset following sell-offs of U.S. technology issues including Apple Inc. and electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc., as well as a decline of the Dow Jones index.
The Nikkei index expanded losses in the afternoon, ending below the 26,000 line for the first time since July 1. It shed over 600 points at one stage after declines in U.S. stock futures.
Electronic component makers lost ground after Japan's industrial output data for August, released Friday, showed that production in the electronic parts and devices sector decreased 6.3 percent from the previous month, although overall output expanded 2.7 percent, some analysts said.
"The data highlighted falling demand for semiconductors and electronic components, spurring selling of related issues amid fears that manufacturers' earnings will suffer," said Koichi Fujishiro, a senior economist at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.
Fewer-than-expected U.S. weekly jobless claims, released the previous day, also dented investor sentiment as they underlined a strong labor market and reinforced the view that the Federal Reserve will not loosen its monetary grip, brokers said.
Higher interest rates make it pricier for companies to borrow, hurting earnings.
In the technology sector, semiconductor equipment maker Tokyo Electron slid 1,300 yen, or 3.5 percent, to 35,700 yen, while chipmaker Screen Holdings fell 270 yen, or 3.3 percent, to 7,880 yen.
Electronic component manufacturer TDK fell 90 yen, or 2.0 percent, to 4,455 yen, while electric motor manufacturer Nidec plunged 478 yen, or 5.6 percent, to 8,130 yen.
Among Prime Market issues, decliners outnumbered advancers 1,551 to 248, while 32 ended unchanged.
Trading volume on the Prime Market rose to 1,520.29 million shares from Thursday's 1,403.61 million.

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