TOKYO: Tokyo's key Nikkei index plunged more than three percent in opening trade Friday, hit by a surge in the yen and sell-offs on Wall Street amid worries over the US economy.
In its first trading session of 2019, the benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 3.32 per cent, or 665.37 points, to 19,349.40 as it was catching up with other markets after the New Year's break.
The broader Topix index lost 2.93 per cent, or 43.72 points, to 1,450.37.
Since the last session in Tokyo on Dec 28, heavy selling has hit global markets.
On Wall Street on Thursday, stocks plunged as China's slowing economy forced Apple to slash its revenue forecast.
Sentiment in the United States was further dented by Institute for Supply Management data showing US manufacturing activity at a two-year low.
The weak data was "more proof, if needed, that President (Donald) Trump's trade actions against China are now hurting the US as much as they are China," said Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy and markets at National Australia Bank.
It is "more reason to think a Sino-US trade deal is in the offing in coming weeks," he said in a note.
Apple late on Wednesday cut its revenue outlook for the latest quarter, citing steeper-than-expected "economic deceleration" in China and emerging markets, factors that have contributed to sharp falls across stock markets since late last year.
Apple's warning contributed to a rally by the Japanese yen, which tends to benefit from a "flight to safety" when investor anxiety is high.
The dollar was trading at 107.62 yen, hardly changed from New York Thursday afternoon but still considerably lower than the 110-yen range seen when the Tokyo market closed for the last year.