Closing Market Report

Star-Bulletin news services

Nikkei slips after
U.S. mad cow scare

Shares of restaurants
serving beef decline

HONG KONG >> Prices in Tokyo dipped Thursday following Wall Street's losses amid fears of mad cow disease. Most other Asian and European markets were closed for the Christmas holiday.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average of 225 issues shed 5.92 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at 10,365.35. On Wednesday, the index lost 1.24 points, a negligible percentage drop.

Investors took cues from Wall Street's Wednesday declines. U.S. stocks fell after American authorities announced the country's first-ever suspected case of mad cow disease.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 36.07 points, or 0.4 percent, to 10,305.19 in a half-day Christmas Eve session on Wednesday in New York. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index dipped 5.55, or 0.3 percent, to 1,969.23.

Wall Street trading was to resume today with another shortened session.

Yesterday, Tokyo traders sold exporters Canon, Sony, and Toyota, while shares of restaurants serving beef continued to slide on mad cow worries. Japan is the largest importer of American beef.

McDonald's Japan lost 4.6 percent while Yoshinoya -- known for its "beef bowls" of sliced beef over rice -- ended down 2.6 percent.

McDonald's Japan uses Australian beef, but traders sold its stock on fears that reduced supply could push Australian beef prices higher and increase the fast-food chain's procurement costs.

The dollar fell against the Japanese yen. The dollar traded at 107.18 yen late yesterday in Tokyo, down 0.15 yen from late Wednesday in Tokyo and below the 107.28 yen it fetched in New York late Wednesday.

In Taipei, prices were pulled down in a lackluster session by selling of flat panel makers. The Weighted Price Index snapped a three-session winning streak, closing 4.17 points, or 0.07 percent lower, at 5,853.70.

Analysts said investors also remained sidelined by worries over Taiwan-China tensions.

In Bangkok, Thai shares fell after new measures were announced to deter speculation on stocks of companies undergoing restructuring. But the main index's fall was cushioned by gains by banking and energy shares. The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index slipped 1.74 points, or 0.2 percent, closing at 721.65.

Markets in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney and Wellington shut for Christmas.

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