Tokyo stocks fall sharply on Middle East tension

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Tokyo stocks closed sharply lower on Friday, weighed down by the risk-off sentiment stemming from the escalating conflict in the Middle East. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock index, the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average, ended down 1,011.35 points, or 2.66 per cent, from Thursday at 37,068.35, suffering the largest point drop since February 26, 2021, Xinhua news agency reported.

The broader Topix index, meanwhile, finished 51.13 points, or 1.91 per cent, lower at 2,626.32. Stocks fell sharply from the outset, with the Nikkei briefly losing over 1,300 points, falling below the 37,000 line for the first time in over two months, as news of Israel’s attack on Iran, which led to a jump in crude oil prices and the buying of safer U.S. bonds, shook investors and spurred selling of stocks across the board, analysts said. Heavyweight semiconductor issues suffered heavy losses from the start of trading, with Tokyo Electron dropping 8.7 per cent, while Advantest shed 4.4 per cent.