Japan's Nikkei Pares Losses as Factories Reopen

In Asia Thursday Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slid 1.4% to close at 8,963. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index slumped 1.8% and in China the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 1.1% to end the day at 2,897.

Japan's markets got a slight reprieve today as the yen slipped a bit after hitting a record high yesterday. While the lower value helped exporters recover from severe losses earlier in the trading session, the country has a long way to go before confidence in its economy's resilience is restored.

As foreigners flee the country in fear of a worsening nuclear disaster, Japanese manufacturers are reopening factories. Today Toyota reopened seven plants, reports AFP, and workers were already back at work at Mitsubishi Motors and Bridgestone. Electronics company Kyocera has been back in business since Tuesday.

Among Japanese car makers Toyota closed down 2.2%, far better than the 5.7% loss recorded earlier in the day. Car enthusiasts across the web are chatting about availability of the new Prius and owners are worrying that repairs might be a nightmare, since all Priuses are made in Japan rather than at U.S. factories. The APreports that only one of Toyota's hybrid battery plants was damaged in the quake. Mazda tumbled 5.3% and both Honda and Nissan lost 1.1%.

Japanese electronics makers slid lower, but not nearly as far as they had plunged earlier in the week. Sharp slid 2.4%, Pioneer lost 2.3% and Sony slipped 0.5%. Kyocera, a maker of electronics components and products ranging from liquid crystal displays and integrated circuits to scanners and printers advanced 2.3%, Panasonic gained 1.2% and Sanyo was up 0.9%.

Tokyo Electric, the operator of the disaster-struck Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant plunged another 13.5% in today's trading. Its value has fallen by more than 50% since Friday. For other nuclear-related shares losses are slowing. Japan Steel Works, which manufactures components for plants, lost a more modest 5.5%, plant builder Hitachi slid 4.3% and Toshiba only dipped 0.8%.

In Hong Kong investors remained jittery over a possible slowdown in the global economic recovery. Foxconn, a maker of mobile phones and popular gizmos like the iPhone and iPad, slumped 4.2%.

Hong Kong real estate shares that tend to fluctuate along with investor sentiment headed south. Cheung Kong dived 2.4%, Sun Hung Kai tumbled 1.7%, Henderson Land lost 1.4% and China Resources Land slid 1%.

Internet powerhouse Tencent suffered hefty losses today, even after reporting a more than 56% rise in net income. Analysts are concerned that growth is slowing, according to the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, China Unicom advanced 2.6%.

Power companies were among those that gained in Hong Kong with China Resource Power rallying 3.4% and Hong Kong & China Gas adding 0.3%. Coal based China Shenhua rose 0.2% and China Coal advanced 0.7%.

In China nuclear-related shares plunged. Nanfang Ventilator, which supplies nuclear plants with ventilation facilities, nosedived the daily maximum of 10% and Dongfang Electric slumped 7.6%. Meanwhile China Yangtze Power, which distributes power generated by the Yangtze hydropower project located at the Three Gorges Dam, rose 3.8%.
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