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Japan Stock Market Closes Down after Wall Street Sell-Off

Japanese shares have tumbled after a heavy sell-off on Wall Street added to nervousness among investors.

Nikkei 225 index fell more than 4% before closing down 2.7% at 17,240.95. Earlier, the index had fallen below the key resistance level of 17,000 for the first time since September.

US shares had fallen over 2% as a oil stockpiles report and a Federal Reserve survey suggested more sluggish growth.

Weak economic data from Japan also dented investors’ confidence.

Government data showed that core machinery orders fell 14.4% in November from the previous month.

The orders were down for the first time in three months in the world’s third largest economy.

Brent crude prices, meanwhile, fell 0.9% to $30.05 a barrel after earlier hitting a fresh 12-year low of $29.73.Japan stock market falls

In Australia, S&P/ASX 200 share index ended 1.6% lower at 4,909.40, despite the release of better than expected employment data.

The unemployment rate in the country was 5.8% in December, with fewer jobs lost than economists were expecting.

Australia lost 1,000 new jobs, as against expectations of 10,000.

In South Korea, the benchmark Kospi index closed down 0.9% at 1,900.01 after its central bank kept interest rates unchanged for the seventh consecutive month.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.5% lower at 19,830.64 in afternoon trade.

China’s Shanghai Composite index was the only bright spot in the region – rising 0.6% to 2,967.35 – as it reversed earlier losses.

Regulators had announced late on January 13 that they had stepped up monitoring share-selling by listed companies’ major shareholders.

The securities commission also said that its transition to a US-style registration system for listings would be a gradual process and not lead to a surge in initial public offerings (IPOs).

The announcement was the latest in a series of measures to support the market after heavy losses since last week.

Elsewhere in the region, Indonesia’s Jakarta composite index was down 1.7% at 4,459.32 after multiple bomb blasts rocked the capital city.