Nikkei plunges for 4th straight day on stronger yen

Nikkei stock index

The Nikkei stock index dropped for the fourth straight session on the yen’s advance against the U.S. dollar amid cautious trading ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average went down 176.07 points or 0.91 percent from 19,107.47, its lowest since Feb. 9. The Topix index finished 16.14 points, or 1.04 percent, lower at 1,534.00.

Every industry category on the main section, except the retail, and fishery, agriculture and forestry sectors, lost ground, led by insurance, mining and bank issues.

The Nikkei marked its fourth consecutive session of decline for the first time since July 8, 2016, briefly dropping below the psychologically important 19,000 line.

Export-oriented issues were mostly lower as the yen maintained its firmer tone against the dollar after rising to a two-week high during New York trading on Friday. A strong yen dents the competitiveness abroad of products made in Japan and reduces Japanese companies’ overseas earnings when repatriated.

Market participants are paying close attention to whether Trump will unveil the details and timing of his economic stimulus measures in his speech before Congress on Tuesday, brokers said.

Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., said he expects market participants to get only a rough idea of Trump’s policies from his speech, while further details will be revealed when he submits his budget plan to Congress in mid-March.

The market may fall following Trump’s address if investors see no new details regarding his tax reform or spending promises, Ichikawa added.

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