Japan Stocks Plunge, Other Asia Markets Fall After US Losses

December 25, 2018 Updated: December 25, 2018
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BEIJING—Japanese stocks plunged on Dec. 25, sliding into a bear market and other Asian markets declined following heavy Wall Street losses.

The Nikkei 225 fell by an unusually wide margin of 5 percent to 19,155.14. The Shanghai Composite Index ended off 0.9 percent at 2,504.82 after being down as much as 2.3 percent at midday. Benchmarks in Thailand and Taiwan also declined.

Markets in Europe, Hong Kong, Australia, and South Korea were closed for Christmas.

Wall Street indexes fell more than 2 percent on Dec. 25 as U.S. stocks are on track for their worst December since 1931 during the Great Depression.

Shanghai is down almost 25 percent this year. Tokyo, Hong Kong, and other markets are on track to end 2018 down more than 10 percent.

Markets have been roiled by concerns about a slowing global economy, the U.S.-Chinese tariff battle, and another interest rate increase by the Fed.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 2.7 percent. The benchmark index is down 19.8 percent from its peak on Sept. 20, close to the 20 percent drop that would officially mean the end of the longest bull market for stocks in modern history—a run of nearly 10 years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 2.9 percent while the Nasdaq skidded 2.2 percent.

Most economists expect U.S. economic growth to slow in 2019, not slide into a full-blown recession. But the president has voiced his concerns over the Fed’s decision to raise its key short-term rate four times in 2018.

Technology stocks, health care companies, and banks took some of the heaviest losses on the Dec. 24 sell-off. Wells Fargo slid 3.4 percent, Microsoft 4.2 percent and Johnson & Johnson 4.1 percent.

U.S. markets were due to reopen Dec. 26.

In energy markets, Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 9 cents to $50.68 per barrel in London. The contract plummeted $3.33 on Dec. 24 to close at $50.77.

In currency trading, the dollar declined to 110.28 yen from the Dec. 24 110.45 yen. The euro was little-changed at $1.1407.