Japan Stocks Fall; Nikkei 225 Posts Worst Yearly Start Since 1997

Japanese stocks fell as China’s decision to maintain the level of its currency for the first time in nine days failed to stop the Nikkei 225 Stock Average posting its worst first week of a year since 1997.

The Topix index dropped for a fifth day, losing 0.7 percent to 1,447.32 at the close in Tokyo. It swung from a 1 percent advance as tire makers led gains and utilities fell. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.4 percent to 17,697.96, taking its weekly retreat to 7 percent. Fast Retailing Co., which is the gauge’s biggest stock, slumped after cutting its earnings forecasts. The yen weakened 0.6 percent to 17.70 per yuan in offshore trading, the first decline since Dec. 30.

China’s central bank set its yuan reference rate at 6.5636 per dollar, near Thursday’s level of 6.5646, providing relief to investors who had taken this week’s steps to weaken the currency as a sign the Chinese economy was weakening and that the nation’s central bank was moving toward a competitive currency devaluations.

Source: Bloomberg