Nikkei slumps for fourth day

JOHN WILLCOCK

The Japanese stock market continued its downward spiral yesterday for the fourth day in a row.

The 225-share Nikkei average closed at a fresh low for 1995 and its lowest close in two years and 10 months after losing 213.78 points to 14,599.68.

The soaring yen and consequent gloom over the state of Japan's economy together with a sheer lack of buyers has driven the Nikkei to lose 6.9 percent of its value since last Wednesday.

The market feels the government is doing little to help banks suffering under increasing bad debt. Insurance companies are also under pressure, with falling stock markets driving down the value of reserves.

A spokeswoman for Barings in London said: "We expect the market to fall below its previous low of 18 August 1992, which was 14,309.

Shigeki Fujita, head of the equities section at Cosmo Securities in Tokyo, expected a rebound of 200 to 300 points, but said there were no buyers. "There's a feeling it's been oversold, but buying back has just been awful," he said.

A call earlier in the day from the Prime Minister, Tomiichi Murayama, for drastic steps to be taken had little effect.

"The Prime Minister was completely ignored. Nobody is relying on the government." Yauso Ueki, general manager of equities at Nikko Securities in Tokyo, said.

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