Wednesday, January 18, 2006

tokyo stock exchange knocks off early

Criminal investigation of an Internet start-up foced the Tokyo stock exchange to close early. It closed twenty minutes early due to the flow of orders to the exchange. The benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange plunged 2.9 percent Wednesday. The Nikkei 225 index dropped 464.77 points to close at 15,341.18 points, its biggest one-day drop since May 10, 2004. Share prices extended losses from Tuesday, when the Nikkei fell 2.8 percent, following Japanese newspaper reports that the investigation into Livedoor that had started Monday was expanding. The index has fallen nearly 6 percent the last two days.

Investors and the Japanese public alike were stunned when prosecutors marched into the Tokyo headquarters of Livedoor Monday evening on suspicion of violation of securities laws by giving false information.

Livedoor is headed by 33-year-old Takafumi Horie, who has risen to celebrity status as a geeky entrepreneur - a rarity in Japan. He has made unsuccessful attempts to buy a media conglomerate and a baseball team and frequently appears on TV.

The national daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Livedoor is suspected of concealing a 1 billion yen ($8.7 million) deficit for the full-year results ending September 2004.

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