Nikkei hits 2-1/2 week low as eurozone fuels global growth worries

domingo 4 de enero de 2015 22:12 GYT

* Nikkei sags on first day of 2015 trade, takes cues from
    * All 33 Tokyo Stock Exchange subsectors in the red
    * Investors bullish on Japan's prospects due to economic

    By Thomas Wilson
    TOKYO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks began 2015 on a
down note on Monday as investors showed little taste for risk
given weak prospects for global growth and a sombre Wall Street
performance on Friday, but the mood towards Japan's outlook
remained upbeat after last year's gains.
    The Nikkei benchmark was down 0.5 percent at
17,356.92 as of 0207 GMT, after slipping more than 1 percent to
its lowest since Dec. 19.
    "People are selling on the back of weak international
signs," said Tetsuro Ii, president of Commons Asset Management,
citing concerns about growth prospects in the eurozone and in
emerging markets.
    In an interview with the German financial daily
Handelsblatt, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi
reiterated the ECB's readiness to act early this year should
inflation remain too low for too long. 
    Economists forecast that data for December, due on
Wednesday, will show the first drop in prices in the eurozone
since 2009. 
    Markets saw Draghi's comments as an indication of monetary
stimulus to come, pushing the euro down to a nine-year low
versus the dollar. 
    The ECB holds its first policy meeting of the year on Jan.
    Despite international concerns, investors are largely
positive about prospects for Japanese stocks in 2015. The Nikkei
gained 7.1 percent in 2014, driven by aggressive asset purchases
by the Bank of Japan and a weaker yen that boosted corporate
    And with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's political position
secure after a landslide election victory last month and a
postponement of a second sales tax hike until April 2017,
investors see few obstacles in the way of a further boost for
Japanese equities from the BOJ's ultra-easy monetary policy,
which is seen as continuing throughout the year.
    "2015 is as good a chance for the Japanese economy,
unfettered by a sales tax rise, as it'll ever get," said Stefan
Worrall, director of cash equities at Credit Suisse in Tokyo. 
    NTT Corp was one of the leading losers on the
Nikkei, dropping 2.1 percent. Exporters' shares were also down,
with Toyota Motor Corp slipping 0.9 percent and
Panasonic Corp falling 0.2 percent.
    JVC Kenwood Corp offered some respite, climbing 11
percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that it had
developed a driver support system that utilises high-quality
    The broader Topix shed 0.6 percent to 1,399.33,
while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 fell 0.7 percent to

 (Reporting by Thomas Wilson; Editing by Edmund Klamann)