TOKYO, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei fell the most in six
months on Thursday, as investors sold expensive growth stocks
after hawkish U.S. Federal Reserve meeting minutes sparked a
sell-off on Wall Street last night.
The Nikkei share average closed 2.88% lower at
28,487.87, posting its biggest drop since June. The broader
Topix fell 2.07% to 1,997.01.
The Mothers Index of start-up firms lost 4.9% to a
19-month low, losing almost 11% in the first three sessions of
U.S. stocks fell sharply overnight, with the Nasdaq down
more than 3% in its biggest drop since February, after minutes
of the Fed's last meeting signalled the central bank may raise
interest rates sooner than expected.
"The Nikkei extended losses because U.S. futures fell (in
Asian trading hours). Investors feared the U.S. market would
fall further this evening," said Kazuharu Konishi, head of
equities at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management.
"Investors appeared to be almost dumping small stocks. It
looks like not only individuals but also institutions are
shifting their money to large, liquid and cheap stocks from
smaller shares with higher valuations."
Toyota Motor gave up early gains to close down
0.3%, while Sony Group tumbled 6.9% after Wednesday's
near 4% gain.
Uniqlo clothing shop owner Fast Retailing lost 4.9%
after its December sales for existing stores fell 11.1%.
Medical equipment maker Terumo tumbled 9% after
Mizuho Securities cut its target price, while medical services
platform M3 tanked 6.7%.
Insurers inched up 0.4% on prospects that higher
interest rates could help boost their earnings, while banks
were almost flat, with Shinsei Bank rising
3.3% to become the top gainer on the Nikkei.
Japan's benchmark 10-year government bond yields hit a
nine-month high, tracking elevated U.S. yields.
(Reporting by Junko Fujita in Tokyo and Tom Westbrook in
Sydney; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)