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Japan Stocks Fall Below 20,000


FILE - People walk past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, Nov. 7, 2018.

Shares on Japan's key stock exchange plummeted Tuesday, highlighting investor fears about political turmoil in Washington and this month's massive losses on Wall Street.

The Nikkei 225 Index lost 1,000 points -- five percent of its value --to close Tuesday at 19,155, finishing under 20,000 points for the first time since September 2017. Tuesday's closing numbers are down 21 percent from its October high.

China's Shanghai index finished nearly one percent lower Tuesday.Markets in Hong Kong, Australia, South Korea, the U.S. and Europe were all closed in observance of Christmas.

The losses on the Nikkei were a spillover from Monday's down day in the U.S., where the Dow Jones Industrial Average index, the S&P 500 Index fell nearly three percent and the NASDAQ Composite Index lost more than two percent.That continued this month's run of near-daily losses, putting U.S. markets on track for its worst December since 1931, during the Great Depression.

The U.S. Christmas Eve selloff was triggered in part by President Donald Trump's Twitter attacks on the central bank, the Federal Reserve, and its chairman, Jerome Powell, for a recent hike in interest rates, as well the partial shutdown of the U.S. government.Investors were also rattled by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's phone calls to the heads of the nation's six largest banks on Sunday to determine if they had enough capital on hand to continue operating normally.

Trump renewed his complaints about the Federal Reserve on Tuesday, telling reporters in the Oval Office it is "raising interest rates too fast because they think the economy is so good." The president added, however, that U.S. companies were "the greatest in the world" and that their lower share prices presented a "tremendous" buying opportunity for investors.