Japanese Market Significantly Lower

The Japanese stock market is significantly lower on Thursday, after the slight gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 falling below the 26,900 level, following the mostly negative cues from global markets overnight, with losses across most sectors, led by financial and technology stocks amid the concerns over the stability of the financial sector.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 351.82 points or 1.29 percent to 26,877.66, after hitting a low of 26,877.66 earlier. Japanese stocks closed slightly higher on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is also down more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Toyota and Honda are declining 1.5 percent each.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Advantest are gaining almost 2 percent each, while Tokyo Electron is adding more than 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are losing almost 4 percent each, while Mizuho Financial is down 3.5 percent.

Among the major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are losing more than 2 percent each, while Canon is declining more than 1 percent and Sony is down almost 1 percent.

Among the other major losers, Dai-ichi Life Holdings and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust are plunging almost 7 percent each, while T&D Holdings is sliding more than 6 percent and JFE Holdings is slipping almost 6 percent. Sumitomo Metal Mining and NTN are losing more than 5 percent each, while Orix, Nippon Sheet Glass, Nippon Steel, Resona Holdings, Sompo Holdings, Mitsui & Co., Sumitomo Chemical,
Mitsubishi Motors and Suzuki Motor are all declining more than 4 percent each.

Conversely, Z Holdings is gaining more than 4 percent.

In economic news, the value of core machine orders in Japan was up a seasonally adjusted 9.5 percent on month in January, the Cabinet Office said on Thursday - coming in at 929.6 billion yen. That beat forecasts for an increase of 1.8 percent following the downwardly revised 0.3 percent gain in December (originally up 1.6 percent).

On a yearly basis, orders improved 4.5 percent - again topping expectations for a fall of 3.5 percent following the 6.6 percent decline in the previous month. For the first quarter of 2023, core machine orders are forecast to rise 2.9 percent on quarter and 3.3 percent on year.

Japan also posted a merchandise trade deficit of 897.7 billion yen in February, the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday. That exceeded expectations for a shortfall of 1,069.4 billion yen following the 3,498.6 billion yen deficit in January. Exports were up 6.5 percent on year to 7.654 trillion yen - missing forecasts for an increase of 7.1 percent but up from the 3.5 percent gain in the previous month. Imports climbed an annual 8.3 percent to 8.552 trillion yen versus expectations for an increase of 12.2 percent and slowing from 17/5 percent a month earlier.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 133 yen-range on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks came off the session's lows on Wednesday, but still ended on a weak note, with bank stocks feeling the brunt of selling pressure. In addition to ongoing concerns about turmoil in the financial sector following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, short-term debt woes of Swiss lender Credit Suisse contributed to the bearish sentiment in the market.

The major averages all recovered well from the day's lows, but the Nasdaq managed to close with a small gain. The Dow ended down 280.83 points or 0.87 percent at 31,874.57, nearly 450 points off the session's low of 31,429.82. The S&P 500, which fell to 3,838.24, ended at 3,891.93, losing 27.36 points or 0.7 percent. The Nasdaq, which tumbled to 11,238.44, settled at 11,434.05, gaining 5.90 points or 0.05 percent.

The major European markets all moved sharply to the downside on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 plunged 3.83 percent, Germany's DAX tumbled 3.27 percent, and France's CAC 40 dropped 3.58 percent.

Crude oil prices plunged to their lowest level since December 2021 on Wednesday, amid rising concerns about global economic growth and worries about the outlook for energy demand after data showed an increase in U.S. crude inventories. West Texas Intermediate futures for April tumbled 5 percent at $67.61 a barrel.

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