Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. dropped the most in almost three weeks after two brokerages lowered their ratings on the company's stock. Daihatsu Motor Co. plunged after Goldman, Sachs & Co. cut its rating on the shares on the view that a slump in the auto market is set to continue.
A U.S. Labor Department report yesterday showed first-time unemployment benefit claims rose to the highest since September 2005, while late payments on credit card, car and home-equity loans climbed to 2.65 percent, the highest since 1992, according to a survey from the American Bankers Association.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 123.08, or 0.9 percent, to 13,266.82 as of 9:31 a.m. in Tokyo. The broader Topix index declined 8.65, or 0.7 percent, to 1,290.99.
Steelmakers dropped after the Nikkei newspaper reported Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co. will slash production and halt exports due to a surge in the yen and rising prices for scrap.