November 9, 2016 / 3:24 AM / a year ago

Nikkei tumbles to 5-week low as Trump pulls ahead in tight White House race

* Nikkei volatility index hits more than 3-month high

* Financials, exporters take a hit

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks skidded more than 3 percent to a 5-week low on Wednesday morning as financial markets were shaken by exit polls showing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pulling ahead of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in a tight U.S. election battle.

Trump held slight leads in the vital battleground states of Florida, Virginia and Ohio, clinging to a narrow advantage over Clinton in key states that could decide their race for the White House.

At the midday break, the Nikkei dropped 2.2 percent at 16,788.90 after earlier tumbling as much as 3.1 percent to hit 16,646.04, the lowest level since Oct. 4.

The benchmark index had gained as much as 1.5 percent in early deals and then swung wildly as the exit poll results from the U.S. vote started rolling in.

The Nikkei volatility index jumped 19 percent to 26.89, the highest since July 29.

Investors have tended to see Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as the candidate of the status quo, while Trump’s stance on foreign policy, trade and immigration has unnerved financial markets.

Traders said a choppy currency market, with the dollar falling roughly 2.5 percent at 102.430 yen after rising to 105.480 earlier, contributed to the gyrations in the stock market.

“The yen has been absolutely all over the place on this (election),” said Nicholas Smith, Japan strategist at CLSA, adding that ‘high beta’ financials are among the hardest hit as the sector reflects investors’ risk sentiment.

“The ‘risk on’ and ‘risk off’ stances that affect the currency, also affects the financial sector,” Smith said.

By midday, all of 33 Topix’s subsectors were in negative territory, with financials and exporters falling sharply.

Toyota Motor Corp fell 3.3 percent, Honda Motor Co tumbled 3.5 percent and Panasonic Corp dropped 2.7 percent.

Brokers also were sold off, with Nomura Holdings shedding 3.1 percent and Daiwa Securities sliding 2.6 percent, while banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 2.8 percent and Mizuho Financial Group dropped 2.9 percent.

The broader Topix dropped 2.3 percent to 1,332.64 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 2.3 percent to 11,942.64.

Graphic of live election results: (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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