Tokyo stocks down 2.35% on opening after US, European sell-offs

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks dropped 2.35 per cent in opening trade Thursday after sell-offs on US and European markets due to worries over the global economy and the spreading Ebola epidemic.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange lost 354.43 points to 14,719.09 in the first 15 minutes of trade.

The US dollar plunged after weak US data appeared to suggest the Federal Reserve could keep its near-zero interest rate policy longer than the mid-2015 timeline for a rate hike that had been expected.

The dollar was at 105.92 yen early Thursday, flat from 105.91 yen in New York Wednesday afternoon but sharply down from 107.33 yen in Tokyo earlier Wednesday.

Fear gripped investors after poor US economic data raised concerns that the US economy, at the moment a bright spot in the fragile global economy, may be succumbing to the eurozone's woes and China's slowdown.

Wall Street stocks finished a turbulent day in the red, paring losses from a huge midday drop.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 173.45 points (1.06 per cent) to finish at 16,141.74. The blue-chip index had fallen more than 400 points earlier in the session.

Equity markets in Britain, France and Germany closed more than two per cent lower.

US President Barack Obama held a crisis meeting with top aides at the White House on Wednesday after a second US Ebola infection was diagnosed at a Texas hospital where a Liberian man died a week ago.

He pledged a "much more aggressive" response at home to the Ebola threat, and insisted that the risk of a serious outbreak on US soil was low.