TOKYO, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo stocks plunged Tuesday, with the benchmark Nikkei stock index falling over 3 percent to a one- month closing low as investor appetite was dashed following poor U. S. employment data sending Wall Street lower overnight, pushing market players to take profits and lock in gains.
Analysts here said that stocks were driven down from the get-go by December's worse-than-expected job growth in the United States, with traders off duty Monday due to markets here being closed for a national holiday.
According to the U.S. Labor Department, the world's largest economy added 74,000 jobs in December, marking the smallest increase since January 2011 and missing median economists' forecasts for 196,000 new jobs.
Local traders said that the job data was a big disappointment and could reflect broader concerns in the U.S. economy as November ' s figures were 241,000, following a 200,000 gain in October, against an average pace of monthly gains of 182,000 in December, compared to 183,000 a year earlier, the Labour Department said.
The unemployment rate in December fell to 6.7 percent, marking the lowest rate since October 2008, as more people left the labor force. Leading economists had believed the rate would hold steady at around 7.0 percent.
Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, said that the drop in stocks on Tuesday was connected to the nine-day, year-end rally and that the weak U.S. jobs data was less surprising than the steep rise in the yen.
But analysts here noted that the yen's rise was capped following news of a record widening current account deficit in November that saw the Japanese currency fall against all 16 of its major counterparts.
The yen retreated 0.3 percent to 103.32 against the U.S. dollar as of 6:35 a.m. in London, compared to Monday when it peaked at 102.86, the strongest since Dec. 18.
The yen slid 0.3 percent to 141.19 per euro after reaching 140. 50 Monday, analysts said, marking the highest level since Dec. 6.
Meanwhile, the dollar was trading at 1.3666 U.S. dollars per euro, having slipped 0.7 percent in the past three sessions.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average lost 489.66 points from Friday to close the day at 15,422.40, marking its lowest close since Dec. 17, while the broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange relinquished 29.40 points, or 2. 26 percent at 1,269.08.
All of the 33 sector indexes fell, with exporters being among the decliners as they rely on a weaker yen to boost their competitiveness overseas and to ensure overseas earnings aren't diminished when repatriated into Japanese currency.
Toyota Motor, the world's largest automaker, lost 2.3 percent to 6,144 yen while smaller rival Honda Motor fell 3.5 percent to 4, 115 yen.
Market bellwethers SoftBank Corp retreated 3.5 percent and Fast Retailing Co., operator of the popular Uniqlo high street stores, lost 3.3 percent.
Suntory Holdings' food and beverage unit rose 0.30 per cent to 3,290 yen after the parent company announced plans to buy the U.S. maker of Jim Beam bourbon for 16 billion U.S. dollars.
Dip Corp. was the day's biggest percentage winner, soaring 24 percent following the recruitment services agency raising its dividend payout to 23 yen per share for the year ending in February, far higher than its previous forecast of 8 yen.
Trading volume on Tuesday dropped to 3.01 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, up from Friday's volume of 3.26 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 1,537 to 194.