Bank of Japan's Cash Injection Does Little to Soothe Investors
Asian markets closed lower Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 3.6% to 8,824 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1% to 20,536. In China the Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.5% at 2,639.
Yesterday's promise by the Bank of Japan to make $118 billion available in a bank loan program wasn't enough to satisfy investors. The move was intended to instill confidence that the government will take action to improve the economy. But today the markets reacted to another increase in the yen, which recently reached a 15-year high. Bloomberg reports that consumer prices have fallen in Japan for the past 17 months, and Japan's place as the world's second largest economy has been usurped by China. Analysts are saying the island nation will have to rely on sales from abroad to bolster its economy, but as the yen creeps ever higher, profits are eroded.
"The number one priority is to curb the strengthening yen," said Nissan's chief operating officer, according to Bloomberg. Shares in Japan's car makers declined today with Mazda plunging 3.6%, Isuzu diving 3.5%, Honda plummeting 2.7% and Toyota falling 2.4%. Nissan, which is opening a new production plant in China where demand is growing, faltered 1.8%.
Elpida Memory, an exporter of computer memory components, tumbled 7.3% while Advantest, which makes semiconductor testing equipment, slumped 5.3%. Both companies export products abroad. Alps Electric, a maker of car electronics, descended 5.2% and consumer electronics makers also felt the pinch. Casio Computer nosedived 6.4% and Canon slid 4.5%. Sony, maker of the Playstation 3, dropped 3.7%, while Wii maker Nintendo slipped 2.2%.
Japanese financial groups suffered big losses with Daiwa House plunging 5.3%, Citizen Holdings slumping 5.1% and Bank of Yokohama sliding 3.7%. Nomura, Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ all lost more than 2%.
Foxconn was among Hong Kong's worst performers, losing 7% after reporting a $142.6 million loss during the first half of the year. The company said it had been hard hit by the falling price of mobile phones and higher depreciation costs. The company has recently been hiring thousands of employees to staff new factories in Central China, reports China Daily. The firm has steadily been moving business north to avoid the higher wages now demanded in the southern city of Shenzhen.
Hong Kong banking shares headed south with Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, Bank of Communications and HSBC each losing 1.9%. Standard Chartered fell 2.3% and Bank of China gave up 1.8%.
In the property sector, China Resources Land sank 1.7% and Sun Hung Kai dropped 1.5%. Henderson Land was among the few winners, gaining 0.6% despite reporting that first-half net profit fell 37%, mostly as a result of canceled luxury apartment sales at 39 Conduit Road. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company also owns 40.1 million square feet of Hong Kong farmland, helping to make Hong Kong greener.
In China, property developers had mixed results with Poly Real Estate losing 0.9% and China Vanke down 0.7%. But Gemdale added 0.8%.
Shipping companies lost value with China Shipping Container Lines plunging 2%, China Shipping Development declining 1.2% and China Cosco Holdings falling 1.1%.
Gold Miners were among those in positive territory today as analysts predict the precious metal could go as high as $1,500, according to Bloomberg. Shandong Gold Mining climbed 1.2% in China and Zijin Mining rose 1.1%. As global economies fail to stabilize, gold is looking like a bright place to stash cash.