Tokyo Stocks continue to fall on early U.S. rate hike concerns

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Tokyo stocks fell for the third straight market day Tuesday amid growing concerns over an earlier-than-expected interest rate increase in the United States.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange gave up 256.08 points, or 0.90%, to end at 28,222.48, after edging down 9.31 points Friday.

The TOPIX index of all TSE First Section issues finished 8.86 points, or 0.44%, lower at 1,986.82, following a 1.33-point fall the previous trading day.

The market got off to a weak start in the wake of the U.S. Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 index extending their losing streaks to multiple days Monday and extended losses in the morning.

In the afternoon, stocks went sideways due to a lack of fresh market-moving events.

“Rises in U.S. long-term interest rates prompted players to sell high-priced growth stocks, in particular,” said Kazuo Kamitani, strategist at Nomura Securities Co.

Long-term Treasury yields have risen since the release Friday of the U.S. employment report for December.

Although nonfarm payrolls showed weaker-than-expected growth, a drop in the jobless rate and an increase in the average hourly wage “reinforced the prospect that the Fed will raise policy rates as early as March,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co.

The Federal Reserve is broadly expected to increase the rates three times this year. But Ichikawa noted, “The market would start pricing in a total of four hikes.”