The Japanese stock market plunged almost 5% on Friday, capping the worst weekly performance for the country’s shares since the 2008 financial crisis.
The Nikkei 225 stock average closed 4.8% down to end the week at 14,952.61, the lowest since October 2014. It was the second major rout of the week after Japanese stocks dropped by 5.35% on Tuesday, and for the week, the index fell by 11.1%, the largest slump since October 2008.
For the year, Japanese stocks have seen a 21% decline in their value, as investors abandon equities in favor of perceived safer assets such as gold, government bonds and the Japanese yen.
The jump in the value of the Japanese currency also portends bad news for global companies like Toyota (TM), as it hurts profits of corporations that earn a major portion of their revenue from overseas markets.
The Japanese government has tried to temper investor worries by reassuring them that the nation’s economy is on the right track. “The flight from risk is spreading to financial markets around the world, but the Japanese economy is in very solid shape, so investors’ psychology is too pessimistic,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters, according to the New York Times.
However, moves such as the Bank of Japan’s decision to introduce their negative interest rate policy last month, and the sentiment around China’s slowdown and dropping commodity prices, have been more impactful to investors.
“The market is starting to digest that [BOJ’s announcement] further and starting to relook at the potential implications not just for financials but for the broader economy, and the fact that the BOJ is running out of policy measures is one thing,” Kei Okamura, assistant investment manager at Aberdeen Investment Management, told Reuters.