Monday, September 1, 2008

Japan's Stocks May Fall on Prime Minister Resignation, Oil Drop

By Kanoko Matsuyama and Toshiro Hasegawa

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's stocks may fall following the resignation of the nation's prime minister, and after crude fell to the lowest in more than four months, diminishing the earnings prospects for oil explorers.

``The political chaos is not positive, but it's difficult to sell aggressively because it may hasten the timing of a general election,'' said Mamoru Shimode, Tokyo-based chief equity strategist at Deutsche Bank AG, in an interview with Bloomberg Television. ``Stocks related to energy and natural resources will be affected by the drop in oil.''

Japan Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda resigned yesterday after less than a year in office marked by political gridlock, plunging approval ratings and disarray within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Crude fell 3.8 percent to $111.22 a barrel in electronic trading in New York after Hurricane Gustav made landfall as a weaker-than-expected storm, easing concern of damage to rigs and refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Crude is 24 percent below the record of $147.27 a barrel reached July 11, during which Inpex Holdings Inc., Japan's biggest oil explorer, has lost 7.8 percent.

Japan's currency climbed to 107.63 per dollar, the strongest since Aug. 4. A stronger yen lowers the value of Japanese companies' repatriated sales.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 238.69, or 1.8 percent, to close at 12,834.18 in Tokyo. The broader Topix index declined 24.07, or 1.9 percent, to 1,230.64. Both gauges retreated the most since Aug. 19. U.S. markets were closed yesterday for the Labor Day holiday.

In the past 12 years, a change in Cabinets preceded an average 1 percent drop in the Nikkei 225 Stock Average in the following month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. Japan's Cabinets have been reconstituted 20 times either by election or reshuffle in that period. The Nikkei has fallen 2 percent since the last change in Cabinet on Aug. 1.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan's largest listed bank, and Mizuho Financial Group Inc., the second biggest, were cut to ``sell'' from ``neutral'' and to ``neutral'' from ``buy'' respectively by Toyoki Sameshima at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

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