Japanese shares fall on fresh worries over US financial sector

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese shares tumbled Tuesday after a sharp drop on Wall Street overnight and on fresh concerns over the health of the U.S. financial sector.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 194.33 points, or 1.46 percent, to 13,159.45.

"Sentiment was sluggish due to renewed worries over the U.S. financial sector and heavy losses on Wall Street yesterday," said Kazuhiro Takahashi, equity strategist at Daiwa Securities SMBC Co. Ltd.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 2 percent Monday after a report by the International Monetary Fund predicted that problems in the credit and housing market will continue to hurt the financial industry.

And after U.S. markets closed, investment bank Merrill Lynch & Co. announced a $5.7 billion loss from bad debt.

Investors in Japan also stayed on the sidelines to take a wait-and-see stance ahead of the release of earnings results from major Japanese companies during the week, Takahashi said.

Japan's top automaker, Toyota Motor Corp., fell 2.66 percent to 4,750 yen. Its rival Honda Motor Co. declined 2.19 percent to 3,570 yen.

Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co., which sells products under its Panasonic brand, edged down 0.23 percent to 2,180 yen. Sony Corp. shed 3.22 percent to 4,210 yen. Both were both due to report earnings Tuesday after the market closed.

Banking giant Mizuho Financial Group Inc. dropped 2.21 percent to 530,000 yen.

The Topix index of all shares listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange declined 1.47 percent to 1,281.64.

In currency trading, the dollar stood at 107.52 yen midafternoon in Tokyo, up from 107.38 yen in New York late Monday. The euro stood at $1.5725, compared with $1.5743 in New York.