Tokyo stocks plunged Friday, the first trading day of 2019, with the Nikkei index falling over 2 percent, as investors worried about the global economic outlook following heavy losses overnight on Wall Street amid a profit warning from Apple Inc.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 452.81 points, or 2.26 percent, from Dec. 28 at 19,561.96. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 22.93 points, or 1.53 percent, lower at 1,471.16.
It was the first time since 2016 that Tokyo stocks ended lower on the first day of the year's trading. Japanese markets were closed from Monday to Thursday for holidays.
Decliners were led by precision instrument, electric appliance and machinery issues.
Tokyo stocks tumbled with the Nikkei index briefly dropping nearly 4 percent, or 750 points, in the morning following a plunge in U.S. shares on Thursday after Apple the previous day cut its sales forecast for the final quarter of 2018 due partly to slower iPhone sales in China.
The yen's temporary appreciation against the U.S. dollar to the upper 107 yen range in the morning from the lower 110 yen level seen late last week also hurt exporter issues, brokers said. Shares later recouped part of their losses in tandem with rising Chinese stocks.
Apple's weaker sales forecast fueled risk aversion that had already spread among market players on weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data for December released earlier this week, said Shingo Ide, chief equity strategist at the NLI Research Institute.
"Investors also refrained from actively buying stocks ahead of the releases later in the day of U.S. nonfarm payrolls data for December and U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's speech," Ide added.
(Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso, 2nd from R, rings the bell at the Tokyo Stock Exchange to mark the first trading day of 2019)
On the First Section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,475 to 598, while 56 ended the day unchanged.
Apple suppliers and other technology shares met selling on the U.S. company's announcement. Electric component maker Taiyo Yuden plummeted 160 yen, or 9.8 percent, to 1,476 yen while Murata Manufacturing also tumbled 1,465 yen, or 9.8 percent, to 13,490 yen.
Growing concerns about the Chinese economic outlook weighed on companies highly exposed to the world's second-largest economy. Industrial robot maker Yaskawa Electric sagged 180 yen, or 6.7 percent, to 2,518 yen, with cosmetics maker Shiseido dropping 376 yen, or 5.5 percent, to 6,516 yen.
Bucking the downward trend, utility issues perceived as relatively immune to external conditions gained ground. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings climbed 45 yen, or 6.9 percent, to 698 yen.
Trading volume on the main section rose to 1,551.30 million shares from 1,195.06 million shares on Dec. 28.