Japan's Nikkei stock average slipped 0.9 percent on Friday to its lowest close in eight days amid growing worry about the fate of a U.S. financial system bailout plan as talks stalled.
Financial services company CSK Holdings Corp tumbled more than 9 percent after saying it would post an annual loss on the turmoil in global credit markets. Shipping firms slid for a second straight day on a further fall in a key freight index and exporters were hit by a stronger yen. Trade remained light, with investors sidelined as negotiations about the $700 billion bailout plan fell into disarray after a contentious White House meeting.
Fears were further stoked as U.S. authorities closed Washington Mutual Inc and sold off its assets in the biggest ever U.S. bank failure.
"This morning, it appeared that the plan was coming together, but now everything seems to be falling apart," said Fujio Ando, senior managing director at Chibagin Asset Management.
"For all we know, Wall Street could fall 300 to 400 points."
Uncertainty ruled, with some players saying there was nothing to do but wait it out.
"This is not a time for either buying or selling. It's all just speculation at this point, and we can't move on this," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Shinko Securities.
The benchmark Nikkei shed 113.37 points to 11,893.16 for its lowest close since Sept. 18. It lost 0.2 percent for the week, its second straight week of losses.
The broader Topix was down 0.5 percent at 1,147.89.
In a sign of how widespread worry about stock markets and the global economy has become, a Japanese retail investor sentiment index tumbled to match its lowest point ever, with individual investors remaining pessimistic about domestic equities.
"The impact from the subprime mortgage loan problems is huge. I can't be bullish unless the U.S. economy recovers," said a man in his 50s who took part in the anonymous poll conducted by Reuters Sept 8-11.
SHIPPERS SINK, EXPORTERS DOWN
Uncertainty over the rescue plan helped push the dollar lower against the yen, undercutting exporters who see their profits go down when repatriated if the yen strengthens.
The dollar was fetching around 105.68 yen.
High-tech exporters were hit the hardest, with Tokyo Electron losing 5.8 percent to 5,190 yen and Kyocera Corp down 2.6 percent at 8,260 yen, among the top three drags on the Nikkei 225 by volume weight.
Industrial robot maker Fanuc Ltd lost 2.2 percent to 8,170 yen. Canon Inc shed 1.4 percent to 4,150 yen.
Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd and other shipping firms sank after the Baltic Exchange's chief sea freight index for global raw materials trade .BADI tumbled more than 7 percent on Thursday to its lowest point since November 2006.
Japanese shippers' earnings are relatively unaffected by the index as charter rates on 80-90 percent of their bulk ships have already been fixed under long-term contracts, but worries of a slowdown in the Chinese economy weigh on their stock prices.
Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd fell 7.2 percent to 670 yen, extending its losses for the week to 11 percent. Mitsui OSK Lines lost 6.3 percent to 946 yen and Nippon Yusen (shed 3.8 percent to 729 yen.
CSK Holdings lost 9.7 percent to 1,641 yen.
The rising uncertainty pushed investors into defensive buying, with drugmakers among the best performers.
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, which on Thursday said it would buy back up to 1.1 percent, or up to 50 billion yen worth, of its outstanding shares, rose 4.2 percent to 5,670 yen. Eisai Co Ltd climbed 2.6 percent to 4,280 yen.
Trade was light on the Tokyo exchange's first section, with 1.82 billion shares changing hands, compared with last week's daily average of 2.46 billion.
Declining stocks outpaced advancing ones by nearly 4 to 1.
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