Image Problems Spread to Japanese Electronics Sending Shares Lower

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Shares in Asia were mixed Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell 1% to 10,102, and China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.3% to 3,061. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index slipped 0.3% to 20,400.

Japanese electronics companies lost value today. Pioneer plummeted 5.3%, Sanyo Electric plunged 2.6%, TDK lost 2.5% Mitsubishi Electric fell 1.9% and Sony dropped 2.1%. Camera companies also suffered with both Nikon and Olympus dipping 1.5%. While the tough economy is certainly partly to blame, many are suggesting that the effects of Toyota's massive recalls and bungled efforts to salvage its reputation are seeping out into other Japanese industries. Japan has long been known for quality products, but now that image may be tarnished.

Yesterday on the BBC's World Have Your Say program, callers from around the world discussed Japanese products. "We're seeing comments from some of you saying that this is undermining your faith in the 'Made in Japan' label," says the BBC. But many listeners called or wrote in to say that Toyota's problems didn't change their view of the country's products in general, "I will still seek out and pay more for 'Made in Japan' products," writes Andrew in Australia on the BBC's website. "I buy things because of the way they function. I don't care if it's Japanese or not," Jennifer Green in London told DailyFinance, which should offer Japanese manufacturers hope that their brands can retain their edge if they continue to put out top-notch products -- and fix and hopefully improve those with defects.

In the meantime, Japanese car companies closed lower in today's trading: Suzuki dropped 2.3%, Honda lost 1.1%, and Toyota slipped 0.2%. Japanese shipping companies, which transport all these high-tech products out to the rest of the world, also closed lower. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha plunged 3.3% and Nippon Express lost 2.1%.

In China, consumer product companies and investors welcomed the news that the government will take measures to keep the Chinese shopping, including more subsidies for major purchases like appliances and incentives to buy "green" cars, according to Bloomberg. Gree Electric Appliances surged 3.9% and Qingdao Haier, maker of air conditioners and fridges, rose 2.5%. Ford partner, Jiangling Motors, which specializes in electric cars, advanced 1.4%.

China's property developers gained today: Poly Real Estate gained 4% and China Vanke advanced 2.7%. Real Estate companies also rose in Hong Kong, where the territory's financial secretary insisted on a radio phone-in program that Hong Kong's sizzling-hot property market is not a bubble, and that the government is taking measures to "maintain the property market's stable and healthy development."

Hong Kong-listed Sino Land spiked 4.5%, New World Development rose 1.1%, Sun Hung Kai rose 1%, Hang Lung up 0.5%. Banks and insurers declined, dragging the Hang Seng lower: Bank of China declined 2%, Bank of Communications lost 2% and insurance company Ping An lost 1.5%.

While eager home buyers are hoping mortgage rates will stay low, banks are still seeking ways to increase their capital -- two things that just may not go hand in hand.
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