January 14, 2014 3:37 pm JST

Nikkei ends sharply lower on uncertain US economy

TOKYO -- Tokyo stocks closed sharply lower Tuesday, with the Nikkei Stock Average sliding 489.66 points, or 3.08%, to end the day at 15,422.40, its biggest one-day fall since Aug. 7 of last year. The market was closed Monday for a national holiday.

     Tuesday's skid brought the benchmark index below the psychologically important 15,500 line for the first time since Dec. 17.

     December U.S. jobs data released Friday came in far below market expectations, increasing uncertainty over the outlook for the U.S. economy.

     U.S. equities were dragged lower as speculation grows that the Federal Reserve will continue winding down its quantitative easing program. The dollar also fell against the yen overnight, dampening investor sentiment and fueling selling across a broad range of stocks in Tokyo. In the afternoon, the Nikkei index extended its losses, with stock index futures coming under growing selling pressure. That sparked a sell-off of high-priced stocks and other shares in the cash market.

     Trading value on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange totaled 2.86 trillion yen ($27.41 billion) on a preliminary basis.