The Nikkei stock index added to losses Wednesday dropping 0.56 percent as slumping consumer confidence in the U.S. dampened sentiment on Wall Street as protests in Hong Kong continued to unsettle the market here.
The Nikkei 225 index dropped 91.27 points to finish at 16,082. 25, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange lost 8.08 points, or 0.61 percent, to close at 1,318.21.
Traders here said that the market was under pressure from the opening bell, following Wall Street's weak lead overnight.
Analysts here pointed to U.S. consumer confidence falling unexpectedly in September, after rising to a near seven-year high in August.
The Conference Board reported that its confidence index dropped to 86.0, marking the lowest point since May when the index was at 82.2.
The latest retreat brought to an end a four-month winning streak and came on the heels of a revised 93.4 reading logged in August -- the highest reading since October 2007.
But local economists said the drop may not be long term and may have been triggered by geopolitical concerns, such as those in the Middle East. They said that the index would likely rise in the near future on a number of upcoming catalysts that are expected to be received positively by consumers in the U.S.
There were plusses for the market, however, despite the protests in Hong Kong, including a quarterly survey from Japan's central bank showing that business sentiment among large Japanese firms improved unexpectedly in September from three months earlier, showing the impact from the April sales tax hike is being dealt with, with a deal of resilience by large firms here.
This may be an encouraging sign for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who's scrutinizing all economic data before deciding on another tax hike next year.
The Bank of Japan's (BOJ) quarterly Tankan survey showed Wednesday that the key index measuring what Japan's big manufacturers think of present economic conditions came in at 13 in the recording period, rising from 12 logged in the previous survey taken in June and the figure surprisingly beat median economists'expectations for a reading coming in at or above 10, reflecting the continued fallout from the nationwide sales tax hike on April 1 from 5 to 8 percent.
As for the big manufacturers' index, the figures revealed the first improvement in two straight quarters, with the nonferrous metal industry and automakers leading the way.
In the near future, the index is expected to remain at 13 in December, the quarterly survey showed today.
Of particular interest to market analysts here was the survey showing that companies expect that capital expenditure will increase in the month ahead by 8.6 percent in the year through March, the central bank said, more than an initial 7.4 percent estimate made in June.
"A sense of relief prevailed in stock and foreign exchange markets after two events -- the Bank of Japan's Tankan survey and Chinese economic data -- passed without big problems. The result was not so negative, as it fell within previous expectations," said Takuya Takahashi, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities Co.
In share trading, Toyota added 0.6 percent to 6,500 yen, despite an order to the tune of 12.68 trillion yen in Toyota stock being canceled through an off-exchange transaction today.
The bourse said that 42 such transactions were canceled in Japan due to what one regulator described as a trading error, effecting orders totaling 67.78 trillion yen.
Silicon wafer maker Sumco tumbled 6.9 percent to 1,233 yen, to become the biggest loser on the Nikkei and its rating was cut by UBS from "neutral" to "sell."
Component and device maker Minebea, which posted the third- biggest decline on the Nikkei 225, dropped 4.7 percent to 1,426 yen. SMBC Nikko downgraded its rating on the firm's stock to" neutral" from"outperform" and JPMorgan Chase & Co. also lowered its rating on the company to"neutral."
Info-telecom and printer producer, Oki Electric, was a notable advancer Wednesday, jumping 3.9 percent to 266 yen, following Mizuho raising its price target on the stock to 310 yen from 260 yen and sticking to its"buy" rating.
Precision equipment maker Star Micronics also closed in positive territory Wednesday, jumping 3.2 percent to 1,664 yen, after announcing a day earlier that its consolidated net profit in the current business year will likely come in higher than earlier projections.
But Honeys, a retailer for women's clothes, plunged 8.8 percent to close at 1,055 yen, after the company said its group net profit in the June-August quarter tumbled more than 80 percent year-on-year to 130 million yen.
Trading volume on Wednesday dropped to 2.20 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Tuesday's volume of 2.23 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 1,136 to 570.