Japanese stocks slide on yen strength

Japanese flag at container terminal Image copyright AFP

Japan's Nikkei index suffered its biggest percentage fall for a month as a stronger yen weighed on exporters.

The Nikkei 225 index closed down 393.18 points, or 2.3%, at 16,562.55.

The US dollar fell below 109 yen at one point and has dropped more than 2% against the yen since Monday.

Analysts say the change is down to uncertainty over when the US will raise rates, and comments from a Bank of Japan board member who is against deepening negative interest rates.

The yen has also strengthened since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a delay to an increase in the nation's sales tax.

The rise in the tax from 8% to 10% will now be delayed until late 2019. It had originally scheduled to be implemented next year.

Shares in tech firms Sony and Panasonic were on the losers list, along with carmakers Toyota, Nissan and Isuzu.

Takata shares fell 5.1%. US carmaker Ford has said it will recall about 1.9 million vehicles in North America, which have been fitted with defective airbag inflators made by the company.

Elsewhere in Asia, China's Shanghai Composite ended the day up 0.4% at 2,925.23, while in Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index also closed higher, 0.5% higher at 20,859.22.

South Korea's Kospi index closed up 0.1% at 1,985.11. Revised growth data released earlier on Thursday showed the economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.8% in the first quarter, compared with a previous estimate of 2.7%.

In Australia, the S&P ASX/200 index ended the day down 44.27 points, or 0.8%, at 5,278.90.