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Update: Tokyo: Stocks plunge more than 3%

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[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks plunged more than three per cent in early trade Thursday on a strong yen, sinking further after tumbling more than three percent in the previous session.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which dropped 3.14 per cent on Wednesday, lost an additional 3.15 per cent, or 622.44 points, to 19,115.20 in the first half-hour of trade.

The Topix index of all first-section issues lost 3.48 per cent, or 55.08 points, to 1,527.40.

Investors were fleeing to the yen, seen as a safe bet in times of uncertainty and turmoil, due to worries over the Greek debt crisis and a Chinese stock market rout.

"We're seeing global risk-off moves," Mitsushige Akino, executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management told Bloomberg News.

"US stocks are falling, (bond) yields are declining, and I expect the yen to strengthen for some time." The Japanese unit was changing hands at 120.71 to the dollar and 133.66 to the euro Thursday, hardly changed from New York late Wednesday but much stronger than the 122 and 135 ranges seen at the start of the week.

Mr Akino said: "It all depends on China. Also Greece faces a deadline on the 12th, so we'll have a wait-and-see feeling until then." European leaders ordered Athens to file a complete reform plan by midnight (2200 GMT) on Thursday, with European President Donald Tusk saying the "final deadline" for a bailout deal would be a summit of all 28 EU leaders on Sunday.

On Japanese equities markets, a stronger yen is a negative as it erodes the earnings of Japanese exporters.

The euro eased to US$1.1064 from US$1.1074 in US trade on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 1.47 per cent on Wednesday after more than three hours in which trading was suspended because of what the bourse said were technical problems.

AFP