Nikkei sinks as recession takes hold

FRESH SIGNS that Japan may be sliding deeper into its worst recession since the Second World War emerged yesterday, delaying any hopes for a recovery in the rest of Asia's battered economies, reports Bloomberg.

On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Nikkei 225 sank 3 per cent to its lowest level in 12-and-a-half years as more grim economic figures were unveiled about the world's second-largest economy. Industrial output fell 0.6 per cent in August from July, the sixth drop in seven months, whilesales at large retailers fell 5.1 per cent from a year ago.

Scores of Japan's biggest companies are slashing earnings forecasts while ratings agencies have been cutting the credit ratings of Japanese firms almost daily in the last few months.

Moody's Investors Service yesterday cut the core long-term debt rating of Japan's biggest brokerage, Nomura Securities, from A1 to A3 - a rare drop of two grades. Moody's said the move reflected substantial losses and asset quality problems in Nomura's international operations and severe earnings pressure in its domestic operations. Nomura's US and British units lost $350m on Russian government bonds at the end of August.

Analysts warned that the downgrade on Nomura, believed to be the only Japanese brokerage house that can survive heightened competition under Japan's "Big Bang" financial deregulation, highlighted more serious concerns about other brokerages.

The latest fall in the Nikkei also prompted warnings that banks and companies are sitting on massive unrealised stock losses. A change in accounting rules this year allows lenders to report securities at purchase price, rather than market value. The losses could surface if the rule is reversed, as expected.

Koyo Ozeki, an analyst at Merrill Lynch Japan, estimates that Japan's 19 major banks had about 6 trillion yen ($44bn) - almost one-third of their core capital at the end of March - in unrealised losses at current stock levels.

Standard & Poor's said it would review the ratings of 22 companies, among them top "AAA'' rated companies such as Toyota Motor, Japan's largest car-maker, and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, the world's largest phone company. The downgrades are a further blow to Japanese corporations, which will see borrowing costs rise.

Economists are bracing for more bad news today when the Bank of Japan unveils its quarterly survey of business sentiment. The survey will be a "confirmation of a deepening and broadening recession, with increased fears of deflation and tightening of bank lending,'' said Cameron Umetsu at Warburg Dillon Read.

Even the quarter-point interest rate cut in the US on Tuesday is expected to do little to reverse Asia's slowdown, as bad debts in the region's banks make lenders reluctant to provide companies with more money.

Economists have also forecast that the government's continued attempts to bolster the economy with tax cuts and public works will be limited as long as demand from other parts of the economy are falling.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album