Japan’s Topix index fell, capping the biggest two-day drop in almost four months, as the yen rose against the dollar and investors weighed U.S. data for clues on when policy makers will cut stimulus.
Nissan Motor Co., a carmaker that gets 34 percent of its revenue in North America, lost 3.5 percent. Yusen Logistics Co. decreased 4.8 percent as a gauge tracking warehousing and harbor transportation shares led losses among the 33 Topix industry groups. Yamato Holdings Co., which provides parcel delivery services, fell the most on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average.
The Topix slid 0.9 percent to 1,229.65 at the close in Tokyo, bringing its two-day slump to 2.6 percent, the most since the period ended Aug. 8. The Nikkei 225 sunk 1.5 percent to 15,177.49. The yen rose 0.3 percent to 102.08 per dollar, strengthening for a third day. Investors awaited U.S. labor data tomorrow after a private report yesterday showed payrolls rose in November by the most in a year.
“Shares are falling as fast as they rose recently, but investors are not buying on dips because they are awaiting the jobs data in the U.S.,” said Kenji Shiomura, a Tokyo-based senior strategist at Daiwa Securities Group Inc., Japan’s second-largest brokerage. “In the short-term, they want to avoid the risk that the Fed may start tapering soon.”
The Topix fell over the past two days after climbing to a six-month high on Dec. 3. The gauge rallied 43 percent this year, the most among major developed markets. It traded at 1.24 times book value today, compared with 2.59 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 1.76 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index yesterday.
Futures on the S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent today. The equity measure dropped 0.1 percent yesterday. Labor Department data tomorrow may show the unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent, matching the lowest level since 2008.
Federal Reserve policy makers, who meet Dec. 17-18, will probably wait until their March 18-19 session before reducing monthly bond purchases to $70 billion from $85 billion, according to the median estimate in Bloomberg’s latest survey of economists conducted Nov. 8.
“The market sentiment hinges upon the timing of tapering,” said Masaru Hamasaki, a senior strategist at Tokyo-based Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., which oversees about 11 trillion yen ($108 billion) in assets. “If people expect tapering to be put off, the yen gets sold and stocks are bought. If they think tapering will happen earlier, the market will move in the opposite direction.”
Exporters to the U.S. dropped, with Nissan losing 3.5 percent to 880 yen. Komatsu Ltd., a construction machinery maker with 30 percent of its revenue coming from the Americas, fell 1.6 percent to 2,204 yen.
The Topix Warehousing & Harbor Transportation Services Index dropped 1.9 percent after losing 1.4 percent yesterday. Yusen Logistics declined 4.8 percent to 1,268 yen and Kintetsu World Express Inc., which provides global distribution services, slid 3.7 percent to 3,920 yen.
Yamato Holdings fell 5.6 percent to 2,042 yen, the biggest drop since June 13 and today’s steepest decline among Nikkei 225 shares. The No. 2 decliner was Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Co., a semiconductor-equipment maker, which fell 4.5 percent to 529 yen.