Tokyo Market: Pessimism hits stock index

JAPAN'S benchmark stock index may fall to a 12-year low this week on pessimism the government can stabilise the country's fragile financial system in time to prevent speculative attacks on weakened banks. Bonds are likely to gain as investors expect an auction of 10-year government bonds to attract strong buying on the dim outlook for stocks.

The Nikkei 225 may sink as low as 13,500, a depth last tested in February 1986, as investors worry the ruling Liberal Democratic Party won't be able to secure rapid parliamentary approval of a plan to lighten the estimated Y77tn in bad and risk loans burdening the industry. Opposition groups last week rejected the most recent proposal, which leaves open the possibility of using taxpayer money to bail out floundering Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan.

"It's hard to imagine a breakthrough on banks - the opposition parties smell blood and want to force an election if possible," said Yoshio Inamura, at Tokyo-Mitsubishi Asset. "The deeper they dig in their heels, the greater the encouragement to target the next LTCB."

Banks were among the heaviest drags on the market last week as the Nikkei fell 1.8 per cent, to 13,723.84. Investors are bracing themselves for more external shocks such as the near-collapse of a US hedge fund, which has raised concerns about a financial crisis in the US. Shares in exporters such as Sony, Fuji Photo Film and Honda Motor could be vulnerable. Still, the heavyweights of the Nikkei will likely get a boost early in the week as foreign institutional investors buy shares to "dress up" their portfolios before the end of the month.

On Tuesday, The Ministry of Finance is expected to sell about Y1.4tn ($10.39 bn) of the bonds, Y200bn more than usual, which may have a record- low 0.9 per cent coupon.

"Even so, there'll be strong demand (at the auction) because investors have sold risky corporate bonds and bought government bonds," said Masahiro Inoue, a fund manager at Sumitomo Marine & Fire Insurances. "Cash can't go anywhere else except to bonds."

Last week, the benchmark government bond yield fell 1 basis point to 0.820 per cent. Bonds posted the biggest gain in a week on Friday as slumping stocks prompted a flight to the safety of fixed-income securities amid concern about global credit risk.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'