(Corrects milestone in headline and in first paragraph)
* Insurers, brokerages, banks worst performers
* Utility stocks outperform after Kansai Electric says it
will restart No.4 reactor at Takahama plant
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, May 18 Japanese stocks tumbled to
2-1/2-week lows on Thursday morning on worries that allegations
against the U.S. President Donald Trump over his interference
with a federal investigation would delay his efforts on tax cuts
and economic stimulus.
The Nikkei share average dropped 1.8 percent to
19,457.75 after falling to as low as 19,449.73, the lowest since
A small but growing number of Trump's fellow Republicans
called on Wednesday for an independent probe of possible
collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia, and one even
A strong Japanese gross domestic product data released in
the early morning was offset by the White House turmoil, which
dragged down Wall Street sharply overnight, where the S&P 500
and the Dow Jones Industrial Average notched their
biggest one-day fall since Sept. 9.
"This GDP data could have been a catalyst for the Nikkei to
touch the 20,000 mark if Trump's turmoil did not come at this
time," said Masayuki Doshida, a senior market analyst at Rakuten
Securities. "Fears that U.S. stocks may fall further in the
future are keeping investors nervous."
According to government data, Japan's economy expanded at
the fastest pace in a year in the first quarter.
Financials were the biggest hit, with all the insurance
, securities and banking sectors
plunging more than 3 percent.
Dai-ichi Life Holdings dived 5 percent, Sompo
Holdings stumbled 3.4 percent, Nomura Holdings
shedding 4 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
declining 3.8 percent.
Exporters were hammered after the dollar fell to a
three-week low of 110.53 yen on Thursday.
Honda Motor Co and Subaru Corp both
dropped 2.3 percent, Tokyo Electron, Fanuc Corp
and TDK Corp all tumbled around 3 percent.
Utility shares outperformed, after Kansai Electric Power Co
said that it will restart the No.4 reactor at its
Takahama nuclear plant.
Kansai was flat, Chugoku Electric Power rose 0.1
percent and Hokuriku Electric Power added 0.3 percent.
The broader Topix dropped 1.7 percent to 1,549.01
and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 1.7 percent to
(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)