Nikkei Slides as Currency and Resignation Rumors Swirl

In Asia Friday Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.3% to 22,119 and Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1% to end the day at 9,472 after yesterday's vacation. Traders in Shanghai were still on holiday.

Stocks in Japan fluctuated heavily today as a wealth of rumors swirled. Watching the yen plunge after four days of increases, some speculated that the Bank of Japan had taken further action to intervene in the value of the currency, but there was no official comment on the matter. But the yen's dip was not enough to outweigh the negative effects of an increase in U.S unemployment -- always scary for exporters that depend on U.S. shoppers to prop up sales figures.

Another rumor making its way around trading floors was the impending resignation of Bank of Japan's governor, Masaaki Shirakawa (pictured). But the Straits Times reports that Shirakawa himself says, "There is no truth (to the rumor)."

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Japanese exporters closed mostly lower today with Konica Minolta diving 4.6% and Canon retreating 1.7%. Among car companies Isuzu fell 1.3%, Mitsubishi Motor slid 0.9% and Honda slipped 0.8%, while Toyota managed a 0.7% gain. Car parts makers struggled today with Jtekt plunging 4.1% and Alps, which makes electronics for cars, falling 2.1% and Clarion, an auto sound system company, closing down 2%.

Businesses supplying the construction industry showed gloomy figures today. Denki Kagaku Kogyo KK slumped 5.2%. Denki makes construction chemicals like resins and also supplies chemicals to the pharmaceutical industry. Meidensha, a maker of electrical machinery sank 3.5%, Asahi Glass, which also supplies glass to construction projects as well as parts for LCDs and cars, tumbled 3% and Ebara, a hydraulic and pneumatic pump firm, nosedived 2.6%.

Big losses also accrued in the shipping sector where Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha gave up 2.8%, Mitsui O.S.K. lost 2.3% and Nippon Yusen KK declined 0.9%.

In Hong Kong, Magic Holdings International climbed 36.7% in today's IPO. The company's range of beauty face masks includes the "Basic," promising whitening and anti-wrinkle properties and "Flowing Golden Words," one of its most popular, which is made of woven silk membranes.

Yue Yuen, athletic shoe maker to the world, shot up 1.6% after major client Nike announced an 8.9% rise in first-quarter profits. Meanwhile Belle International, maker of trendy women's shoes, dropped 1.1%.

Among Hong Kong developers China Resource Land rallied 4.7%, Cheung Kong rose 1.4%, Sun Hung Kai advanced 1.3% and Henderson Land added 1.2%, but there were losses for Hang Lung, which slumped 2.4%, Sino Land, which fell 1.8% and China Overseas, which dipped 0.8%. Watch out for the upcoming National Day holiday which could inspire more frenzied property buying.