Tokyo stocks close down over 2%

Tokyo: Tokyo stocks closed lower for the fourth straight day on Friday as risk aversion grew after weak Chinese trade data fuelled worries over the global economy.

The Nikkei 225 index lost 2.01 percent, or 430.45 points, to 21,025.56. Over the week, the benchmark index tumbled 2.67 percent.

The broader Topix index fell 1.82 percent, or 29.22 points, to 1,572.44, down 2.68 percent from the week before.

The Tokyo market got off to a weak start on investor worries after the European Central Bank (ECB) slashed its 2019 eurozone growth and inflation forecasts.

Japanese shares “failed to stem the trend of falls in the US market on concerns over the global economic outlook”, Kentaro Yahashi, strategist at Daiwa Securities, said in an online commentary.

Risk aversion grew even greater late Friday after Chinese data showed the world’s second-largest economy’s exports and imports plummeted much more than expected in February as it fights a trade war with the United States.

China’s total overseas shipments sank 20.7 percent on-year and imports fell 5.2 percent.

“The loss (in the Nikkei) expanded to over 400 points as investors were discouraged by the sharp drop in Chinese exports,” Okasan Online Securities chief strategist Yoshihiro Ito said in a note.

Investors were now awaiting US jobs data due later Friday to get fresh clues about the world’s largest economy, analysts said.

In Tokyo, global economic concerns sent steelmakers and shipping companies lower.

Major shipping group NYK plunged 3.22 percent to 1,654 yen and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal closed down 1.38 percent at 1,928 yen.

Market heavyweight and Uniqlo casual wear operator Fast Retailing fell 2.24 percent to 52,210 yen and Nintendo lost 2.67 percent to 29,665 yen.