TOKYO - Japan's Nikkei average slid on Friday to mark its ninth straight week of losses, the longest such run in 20 years, after disappointing Chinese and US data deepened fears of a global slowdown in the throes of Europe's debt crisis.
Exporters were hurt by a double whammy of data suggesting slowing demand for their products and a strong yen, which rocketed to an 11-1/2 year high against the euro and stayed firm against the dollar as investors flocked to buy the safe-haven currency.
"The problem is that although Japanese stocks are technically cheap according to historical barometers, the market has always moved more on foreign factors than domestic ones," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.
Canon Inc, Mazda Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co and Sony Corp lost between 3 and 4 per cent.
Stocks with high exposure to China sagged after its official purchasing index (PMI) fell to a year-to-date low of 50.4 in May, the latest indicator of slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy.
The figure came in well under the consensus of 52.2 expected by economists polled by Reuters, and down from 53.3 in April.
Komatsu Ltd dropped 4.3 per cent and Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd lost 4.2 per cent.
The Nikkei fell 1.2 and was down 1.6 per cent on the week.
On Thursday it logged a drop of 10.3 per cent in May, its worst monthly performance in two years, dogged by signs of slowing growth and shrinking global demand.
It has fallen 17.7 per cent since hitting a one-year high on March 27.
Investors sought refuge in defensives, with telecoms firms benefiting. NTT DoCoMo put on 3 per cent, while KDDI Corp gained 1.4 per cent and Softbank Corp added 1.1 per cent.
Yahoo Japan fell 3 per cent after Barclays Capital said it faces slowing growth after years of steady profit expansion, and its "prospects remain unclear" despite a new management team bent on emphasising its youth.
The broader Topix lost 1.5 per cent and the index ended down 1.8 per cent on the week, on track for a ninth straight week of losses to mark its worst weekly losing streak since 1975.
"Many investors are watching the timing to enter the market. However, as long as the knife is falling, nobody can catch it,"said Ryota Sakagami, chief strategist in equity research at SMBC Nikko Securities.
"The current problem is the tail risk from Europe ... However, (it's) different from last year," he said, adding that the US economy was in better shape, but that investors had high expectations for its performance.
Yet the market was weighed on by US data released overnight that showed an increase in jobless claims for the seventh week in eight and lower economic growth in the first quarter than expected.
Investors were also waiting for payrolls data later on Friday, with economists polled by Reuters expecting unemployment to remain at 8.1 per cent.