TOKYO, March 4 (Reuters) – Japanese shares fell sharply on Thursday as investors sold off index heavyweights including SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing following a plunge in the Nasdaq index overnight.
The Nikkei share average lost 1.59% to 29,085.92 by 0149GMT, while the broader Topix declined 1.05% to 1,884.54.
“The decline in the Nasdaq index has a big impact on today’s market. That has prompted investors to sell shares, particularly index heavyweights,” said Hideyuki Suzuki, general manager at investment research at SBI Securities.
The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.7% overnight to its lowest since early January after investors sold high-flying technology shares and shifted to sectors viewed as more likely to benefit from an economic recovery.
In Japan, Fast Retailing, the Uniqlo brand clothing store operator, fell 3.91%, dragging down the index the most, while SoftBank Group dropped 5.5% and Tokyo Electron lost 2.13%.
SoftBank Group’s fall came in the wake of news that British supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital, which the Japanese conglomerate backs, was in talks to sell large parts of its business.
Hitachi Zosen surged 18.18% after local media reported that the energy and infrastructure company had developed a high-performance solid-state battery.
Ricoh was untraded with a glut of bids after the office equipment maker said it would spend about 100 billion yen ($934.40 million) to buy back its own shares.
Shipping firms advanced, with Kawasaki Kisen rising 4.34%, Mitsui OSK Lines adding 2.58% and Nippon Yusen climbing 1.79%.
There were 67 advancers on the Nikkei index against 150 decliners.
($1 = 107.0200 yen)
(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)