Nikkei hits five-week low on renewed fears of global slowdown

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
Nikkei hits five-week low on renewed fears of global slowdown
Credit: © Reuters.

* Insurers, banks fall on U.S. Treasury yield curve inversion

* Makers of factory automation equipment fall

* SoftBank Group on track for biggest drop since late Dec.

* Eisai falls to daily limit-low again

* All of Topix's 33 subsectors in the red

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO, March 25 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei sold off sharply on Monday as investors moved into bonds and other assets perceived as safe amid renewed fears of a global economic slowdown.

The Nikkei share average .N225 was last down 3.09 percent at 20,958.79, paring some losses after dipping to its lowest since Feb. 15.

The benchmark index was on track for its steepest daily fall in percentage terms since losing 5 percent in late December.

The broader Topix .TOPX fell 2.65 percent to 1,574.25, hovering near a two-week low, with all of its 33 subsectors trading in negative territory.

On Friday, the spread between yields of U.S. three-month Treasury bills US3MT=RR exceeded those of 10-year notes US10YT=RR for the first time since 2007. inversion of the Treasury yield curve suggested the world's largest economy could slide into recession and reignited fears of a deepening slowdown in the global economy. MKTS/GLOB

Japanese insurers and banks, which seek higher yielding products such as U.S. bonds, sold off sharply on Monday, weighed down by the inversion of part of the U.S. yield curve.

Dai-ichi Life Holdings 8750.T shed 3.3 percent, T&D Holdings 8795.T was off 3.9 percent and Tokio Marine Holdings 8766.T dropped 1.7 percent.

"Insurers react negatively as it becomes harder for them to manage assets," said Eiji Kinouchi, chief technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

Banks were also down, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group 8306.T 3.2 percent lower and Mizuho Financial Group 8411.T off 1.7 percent.

Shares of companies that are relatively sensitive to the global economic outlook, such as factory automation equipment makers, lost ground on Monday.

Fanuc 6954.T fell 3.9 percent while Keyence 6861.T , an index heavyweight, gave up 0.9 percent.

Daiwa's Kinouchi said firms that are relatively sensitive to the global outlook may rebound on robust stimulus in China - just as many had done after a sell off in December.

Index heavyweight SoftBank Group 9984.T dropped 5.7 percent, putting it on track for its biggest daily loss since late December last year.

The drug sector .IPHAM.T remained in the spotlight, falling 3.9 percent.

Drug maker Eisai Co 4523.T was set to fall nearly 20 percent to a daily-limit low of 6,065 yen after the company and its partner Biogen Inc BIIB.O said last week they had scrapped trials of an experimental Alzheimer's drug. news weighed on other pharmaceutical names for a second session, with Astellas Pharmaceutical 4503.T down 3.9 percent and Takeda Pharmaceutical 4502.T giving up 2.5 percent.

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