Shares in Asia were bearish Thursday with Japan's Nikkei sliding 2.6 percent. Leading the retreat, Nomura Holdings Inc. (NRSCF) plunged 16 percent – its biggest one-day loss in more than 30 years – costing the company 302.5 billion yen ($3.3 billion) in market value.
Nomura remained untraded in the morning due to the flood of sell orders placed on the news that the company plans to sell 511.3 billion yen ($5.6 billion) – nearly 30 percent of its outstanding stock. The Tokyo-based brokerage firm plans to use the proceeds to expand into the U.S., European, Asian and emerging markets. But in the meantime, this sale will severely dilute the holdings of existing investors, many of whom have already endured the purchase of Lehman Brothers' ailing European and Asian business.
News of the sale led Kikko Citigroup Ltd. to downgrade Nomura's rating to "sell," precipitating the huge drop in share price. Negative investor sentiment spread to other financial stocks: Mitsubishi UFJ (MBFJF) plummeted 6.45 percent, Resona Holdings (RSNHF) dropped 5.6 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFJY) fell 5.4 percent and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. (MFG) lost 4.3 percent.
On a brighter note, Aiful Corp.'s (AIFLY) share price emerged from a seven-day losing streak, spiking 12 percent on the news that it plans to cut as many as 2,000 jobs or 44 percent of its workforce. However, today's gains still don't make up for yesterday's woeful loss of 21 percent, and investors will have to see whether the lender will be able to rescue itself from its dire situation. In the past four years, the company has lost nearly 99 percent of its value.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng posted a 0.1 percent loss to close at 21,024. Most stocks declined on the unexpected news out of the U.S. that home sales fell last month. Anticipating a drop in exports and sales, shoe company Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd. (YUEIY), which attributes 31 percent of its sales to the U.S., fell 2.2 percent, and Li & Fung (LFUGY), which supplies clothes and toys to Wal-Mart and Target, slipped 0.8 percent.
Meanwhile, building company Metallurgical Corp of China Ltd., which lost value when it went public yesterday, continued its slide, falling 1.2 percent today and menswear company China Lilang Ltd. followed Metallurgical's lead losing .8 percent in its IPO today. Perhaps this is an indication that investors are losing enthusiasm for the gush of Asian IPOs, which many say are priced too high.
In China the Shanghai Composite Index also fell, closing at 2,839 – a drop of .5 percent. Several companies reached their 10 percent daily limits in both directions: Electronics company Tiancheng Co. plunged 10 percent in its first day of trading since August 27, and fruit and vegetable processing company Zhejiang Haitong Food Group Co. rose 10 percent.
Overall, there were just a few bright spots in markets that have seen better weeks.