Tokyo stocks close down for third straight session

The Nikkei 225 index lost 0.65 percent, or 134.98 points, to close at 20,585.31. (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 August 2019

Tokyo stocks close down for third straight session

  • The market is expected to be under pressure for now as prospects for the US-China issue remain uncertain
  • The dollar was trading at 106.68 yen in Asia afternoon trade against 105.95 in New York Monday afternoon

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks fell for a third consecutive session Tuesday in volatile trade, plunging nearly three percent at one point over US-China trade war worries but paring losses later in the session.

The Nikkei 225 index lost 0.65 percent, or 134.98 points, to close at 20,585.31 while the broader Topix index was down 0.44 percent, or 6.65 points, at 1,499.23. In early trade, the key Nikkei index dropped more than 2.9 percent after Wall Street suffered its worst session of the year on concerns about an escalating US-China trade dispute.

But Tokyo shares recovered some of their early losses as the sharp fall prompted late bargain-hunting, said Daiwa Securities chief technical analyst Eiji Kinouchi. “However, the late buy back does not mean sentiment improved,” Kinouchi told AFP. “The market is expected to be under pressure for now as prospects for the US-China issue remain uncertain,” he added.

Beijing parried US President Donald Trump’s latest tariff announcements by moving to let the Chinese yuan devalue and halting purchases of US agricultural products. Trump fired back, with Washington formally designating China a currency manipulator. Investor sentiment has taken a hit as the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies has escalated quickly.

After last week’s tariffs announcement by Trump, the market was expecting a reaction from China, noted Rodrigo Catril, senior strategist at National Australia Bank. “But based on recent behavior, there was still some expectation for China to take its time while also aim for a more measured response,” he said in a note.

“In the end, we got a little bit more than anticipated,” he said, with Beijing letting its yuan fall to levels the Chinese authorities had previously been cautious to breach. “We think it sends a signal that China is gearing up for a long trade battle with the US,” he said.
“Recent events suggest a US-China trade deal is unlikely... any time soon and indeed it seems reasonable to expect trade tensions to get worse before they get better.”

On Wall Street, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 2.9 percent in the worst session of the year, the broad-based S&P 500 slumped 3.0 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 3.5 percent. A decline in the yen against the dollar also helped Tokyo shares recoup some of their early losses, Kinouchi said.

The dollar was trading at 106.68 yen in Asia afternoon trade against 105.95 in New York Monday afternoon. Toyota tumbled 2.41 percent to 6,720 yen and Honda lost 0.21 percent to 2,560.5 yen, but Nissan rose 3.35 percent to 684.1 yen. Panasonic plunged 2.02 percent to 829.3 yen.

Electric luxury vehicles, SUVs ‘more likely to cause accidents’

Updated 2 min 39 sec ago

Electric luxury vehicles, SUVs ‘more likely to cause accidents’

  • As EV sales rise, French insurer AXA warns that drivers are struggling to adapt to cars’ rapid acceleration

LONDON: Electric luxury cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) may be 40 percent more likely to cause accidents than their standard engine counterparts, possibly because drivers are still getting used to their quick acceleration, French insurer AXA said.

The numbers, based on initial trends from claims data and not statistically significant, also suggest small and micro electric cars are slightly less likely to cause accidents than their combustion engine counterparts, AXA said at a crash test demonstration on Thursday.

AXA regularly carries out crash tests for vehicles. This year’s tests, which took place at a disused airport, focused on electric cars.

Overall accident rates for electric vehicles are about the same as for regular cars, according to liability insurance claims data for “7,000 year risks” — on 1,000 autos on the road for seven years — said Bettina Zahnd, head of accident research and prevention at AXA Switzerland.

“We saw that in the micro and small-car classes slightly fewer accidents are caused by electric autos. If you look at the luxury and SUV classes, however, we see 40 percent more accidents with electric vehicles,” Zahnd said.

“We, of course, have thought about what causes this and acceleration is certainly a topic.”

Electric cars accelerate not only quickly, but also equally strongly no matter how high the revolutions per minute, which means drivers can find themselves going faster than they intended.


Accident rates among luxury and SUV electric vehicles are 40 percent higher than for their combustion engine counterparts.

Half of electric car drivers in a survey this year by AXA had to adjust their driving to reflect the new acceleration and braking characteristics.

“Maximum acceleration is available immediately, while it takes a moment for internal combustion engines with even strong horsepower to reach maximum acceleration. That places new demands on drivers,” Zahnd said.

Sales of electric cars are on the rise as charging infrastructure improves and prices come down.

Electric vehicles accounted for less than 1 percent of cars on the road in Switzerland and Germany last year, but made up 1.8 percent of Swiss new car sales, or 6.6 percent including hybrids, AXA said.

Accidents with electric cars are just about as dangerous for people inside as with standard vehicles, AXA said. The cars are subject to the same tests and have the same passive safety features such as airbags and seatbelts.

But another AXA survey showed most people do not know how to react if they come across an electric vehicle crash scene.

While most factors are the same — securing the scene, alerting rescue teams and providing first aid — it said helpers should also try to ensure the electric motor is turned off. This is particularly important because unlike an internal combustion engine the motor makes no noise. In serious crashes, electric autos’ high-voltage power plants automatically shut down, AXA noted, but damaged batteries can catch fire up to 48 hours after a crash, making it more difficult to deal with the aftermath of
an accident.

For one head-on crash test on Thursday, AXA teams removed an electric car’s batteries to reduce the risk of them catching fire, which could create intense heat and toxic fumes.

Zahnd said that studies in Europe had not replicated US findings that silent electric vehicles are as much as two-thirds more likely to cause accidents with pedestrians or cyclists.

She said the jury was still out on how crash data would affect the cost of insuring electric versus standard vehicles, noting this always reflected factors around both driver and car.

“If I look around Switzerland, there are lots of insurers that even give discounts for electric autos because one would like to promote electric cars,” she said.