By Allen Wan, CBS.MarketWatch.com
TOKYO (CBS.MW) - Japanese stocks couldn't find any Christmas cheer Thursday as the mad-cow scare triggered more selling of beef issues following a gloomy session on Wall Street.
The Nikkei Average ended down 5 points, or 0.1 percent, at 10,365.35, while the broader Topix was flat at 1,012.
Shares of Japanese restaurants and meat processors tumbled for a second day as a chorus of nations announced bans on U.S. beef imports after a cow was found to have the bovine disease in the state of Washington. Japan is America's biggest beef export market.
Shares of McDonald's Holdings /zigman2/quotes/208911986/delayed JP:2702 0.00% , a unit of the U.S. fast-food giant /zigman2/quotes/203508018/composite MCD -4.41% , plunged 4.6 percent to 2,080 yen and those of beef-bowl restaurant Yoshinoya /zigman2/quotes/204631791/delayed JP:9861 -0.67% lost 2.6 percent to 150,000 yen.
On Wall Street, both the Dow and Nasdaq ended down 0.3 percent in a holiday-abbreviated session. Wall Street will be shut later today for the Christmas holidays. Asia was also quiet as markets in Hong Kong and South Korea also closed for the holidays. Taiwan's Weighted Average closed down 4 points at 5,853.
In Japan, technology exporters fell as the dollar weakened against the yen, while banks provided some support to the overall market.
The dollar fell to 107.12 yen by late Tokyo from the late Wednesday New York level of 107.35 yen.
Canon /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ -0.88% fell 1.2 percent to 4,840 yen and Sony sank 1.6 percent to 3,640 yen. Fujitsu /zigman2/quotes/208783738/delayed FJTSY +2.36% shed 1.2 percent to 600 yen amid a Nihon Keizai Shimbun report that the electronics giant and Sumitomo Electric will merge their compound chip operations next spring. Sumitomo Electric's shares rose 0.5 percent to 939 yen.
Top automaker Toyota /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM -2.79% skidded 0.8 percent to 3,630 yen. Late in the session, Toyota announced that global auto output rose 3.4 percent from year-ago levels to 590,617.
Proving support to the market were banking stocks as Mizuho Financial /zigman2/quotes/202653786/delayed MZHOF +0.95% gained 2.4 percent to 296,000 yen and UFJ Holdings jumped 3.4 percent to 481,000 yen.
Also, shares of Softbank Investment /zigman2/quotes/200067066/delayed JP:8473 -0.98% jumped 10.6 percent to 115,000 yen after the unit of Internet investment firm Softbank said it has acquired Nissho Iwai Securities from trading firm Nissho Iwai for 1.18 billion yen ($11 million). It said in a statement that it aims to offer value-added financial services to the broker's institutional customers by tapping into Softbank's global network. Softbank /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 +0.29% gained 5.5 percent to 3,290 yen.
The Tokyo stock market will be shut following a half day of trade on Dec. 30. It will reopen on Jan. 5th. Hong Kong's stock market will be closed Friday for the holidays.