Monday, 9 March 2009

Nikkei at 26-year low as Japanese current account goes into deficit

Asian stock markets kick off the week on a negative note. AFP/CNA reports:

Most Asian share markets dipped Monday on more glum news from Japan, where stocks hit a 26-year low on the announcement of the country's first current account deficit in more than a decade...

Japan's Nikkei stock index shed 1.21 per cent to close at its lowest level since October 1982. The benchmark has dropped 20 per cent so far in 2009, after a record 42 per cent slump last year.

More details on Japan's latest current account came from another AFP/CNA report.

Japan logged a bigger than expected deficit of 172.8 billion yen (1.8 billion dollars) in January in its current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, according to official data.

Exports almost halved from a year earlier, reflecting the rapidly worsening global economic climate.

The deficit was the largest since comparable records began in January 1985 and marked a dramatic turnaround from the surplus of 1.164 trillion yen a year earlier.

The other Asian giant, China, isn't likely to do all that well either. Again from AFP/CNA:

China's economy is likely to slow further to 6.5 per cent in the first quarter, intensifying deflationary pressures, a government think tank said in a report published on Monday.

First-quarter economic growth will be slower than the 6.8 per cent seen in the fourth quarter of last year, the State Information Centre said in a report published in the official China Securities Journal.

The government think tank also forecast the consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, would fall 1.0 per cent in the first quarter, compared with a rise of 1.0 per cent in January.

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