UPDATE1: Nikkei ends at new 29-month low on weak Asian markets.
(EDS: ADDING PRICES AND DETAILS)
Tokyo stocks fell Wednesday, with the Nikkei stock index ending at a new 29-month low, as Asian stocks sagged against the backdrop of persistent jitters over the eurozone.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average dropped 97.98 points, or 1.14 percent, from Tuesday to 8,518.57, its lowest close since finishing at 8493.77 on April 28, 2009.
The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 8.13 points, or 1.08 percent, at 741.69.
Decliners were led by the consumer finance sector, followed by the nonferrous and textiles sectors. Gainers included the rubber products, the fishery and forestry, and the electricity and gas sectors.
Tokyo stocks extended losses in the afternoon, with the Nikkei index briefly dipping below the 8,500 level for the first time since April 2009, as Asian stocks fell broadly amid lingering fears over the eurozone debt crisis, brokers said.
Taiwan and South Korean shares, for instance, took a heavy beating Wednesday, with the Taiwan Capitalization Weighted Stock Index closing 2.2 percent lower, and South Korea's Kospi index finishing 3.51 percent down.
The appreciation of the yen against the euro hit export-linked shares, said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. The single currency briefly dipped into the upper-104 yen range, nearing a 10-year low around the 104-yen line.
Market sentiment was also dampened after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China, on Wednesday that his country, the world's second biggest economy, will maintain tight monetary policy to contain inflation and that the global economy will take a long time to recover, Miura said.
Jitters over the eurozone debt problem prevailed over the market with investors brushing off potentially positive moves in Poland over the weekend.
According to media reports, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in a rare attendance at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Poland, is likely to urge the ministers to consider enlarging the size of the European Financial Stability Facility, brokers said.
Investors also were not impressed by a report that French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will hold a teleconference later Wednesday over the European financial crisis, they said.
''Although the moves by the political leaders gave some reassurance to investors, wariness remains over the outlook of the eurozone debt crisis, preventing them from buying stocks actively,'' said Tsuyoshi Segawa, equity strategist at Mizuho Securities Co.
Canon, a Europe-sensitive share, shed 140 yen, or 4.1 percent, to 3,295 yen to renew its lowest level for the year, marked on March 15 in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster, amid the negative outlook for the global economy.
Among China-linked shares, Komatsu lost 69 yen, or 3.8 percent, to 1,730 yen and Hitachi declined 4 yen, or 1.1 percent, to 378 yen.
Mizuho Financial Group shed 1 yen, or 0.9 percent, to 111 yen and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group lost 6 yen, or 1.8 percent, to 325 yen after industry minister Yukio Edano said again Tuesday that creditors and shareholders should shoulder some of the burden of compensating the victims of the accident at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Edano, when he was chief Cabinet secretary under Prime Minister Naoto Kan, said it would be necessary for the utility's creditor banks to waive debts following the nuclear accident.
Suzuki Motor rose 3 yen, or 0.2 percent, to 1,541 yen on a report Wednesday that the automaker is considering building a new passenger car plant in India.
On the First Section, declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones 1286 to 285, with 97 others remaining unchanged.
Trading volume on the main section rose to 1,776.40 million shares from Tuesday's 1,689.52 million.