Japan’s financial markets were back in turmoil today (Feb. 9). Stocks fell more than 5% and the yield on the benchmark 10-year bond went below zero for the first time (paywall). The poor performance followed a bank-led sell-off in the US and Europe yesterday.
The Nikkei 225 finished 5.4% lower, its worst one-day drop since June 13, 2013, thanks to fears of a global economic slowdown that hit Japan’s financial stocks especially hard (paywall). Shares in Nomura Holdings, a major Japanese financial group, dropped 9.1%, hitting their lowest level in three years.
Even before today’s gloom, February wasn’t looking like a good month for investors:
The yen, typically viewed as a safe haven from market turmoil, rose 1% to ¥114.75 per dollar, the strongest level since November 2014. That, in turn, hit the stocks of companies that make a lot of their money overseas, from Nissan to Nintendo.
Meanwhile, the yield on the Japanese government’s benchmark 10-year bond fell below zero. That was the most dramatic consequence yet of the Bank of Japan adopting negative short-term interest rates for the first time on Jan. 29, and suggests investors expect the bank to cut interest rates even further in hopes of boosting the battered economy.