* Nikkei stays below 200-day moving average
* Japan market may be pushed down on yen move for now - trader
* Recruit attracts buying, rises above IPO price
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average tumbled 2.5 percent to a 4-1/2-month low on Thursday after Wall Street dived on deepening worries about weak global demand, while a stronger yen dragged down exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp.
The Nikkei was down 374.90 points at 14,698.62 by mid-morning after falling to as low as 14,672.55 earlier, its lowest since May 30.
The benchmark has stayed below its 200-day moving average for the third consecutive day.
“It’s clear that people are avoiding risks,” said Takatoshi Itoshima, chief portfolio manager at Commons Asset Management, adding that investors started to doubt whether U.S. economic recovery was strong enough to sustain the Japanese stock market.
The U.S. economy has been a relatively bright spot in the otherwise darkening global economic picture, and investors have rushed into dollars as a result.
“The yen is now strengthening without any supportive measures, so we are just going to be pushed down on moves in the yen for the time being,” Itoshima said. “But I think selling is nearing a climax - unless there are further negative developments in global growth.”
He noted that the S&P 500 managed to trim its steep losses by the close, and thus the Nikkei may curb its morning losses later in the day as well.
Exporters were battered, with Toyota falling 3.2 percent to a 4-1/2-month low. Honda Motor Co sank 4.5 percent to the lowest since January 2013 and Panasonic Corp shed 3.0 percent.
Banking shares were also hammered. Mizuho Financial Group , Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group dropped between 2.9 percent and 3.5 percent.
Despite the rout in Wall Street overnight and the prevailing risk averse sentiment, other traders said that some foreign investors kept cool.
“It’s not anything panicky. The year-to-date performance on the S&P is still up about 1 percent so regardless of people saying risk-off, risk-off, it’s surprising to see how well the U.S. actually held up until now,” said a senior trader at a foreign brokerage.
“People are just trimming positions rather than selling massively. People are paying attention to good companies like Resorttrust and the Recruit IPO.”
Japanese staffing firm Recruit Holdings Co Ltd rose 6.5 percent in its market debut after a $2 billion initial public offering.
The shares climbed to 3,300 yen, compared with their IPO price of 3,100 yen.
Hotel operator Resorttrust Inc rose 0.8 percent after it raised its full-year net profit outlook to 11.2 billion yen from previously forecast 9.8 billion yen.
The Topix fell 2.0 percent to 1,198.96, and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 2.0 percent to 10,901.65. (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Eric Meijer & Kim Coghill)