Japan Stocks Fall


Japanese stocks fell after claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly jumped in the U.S. and late payments on consumer debt rose to a 15-year high, pointing to a worsening outlook for companies reliant on U.S. consumer spending.

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.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
4/3/2008 6:07:52 PM