Financial market developments

Quarterly Bulletin 1990 Q4
Published on 01 December 1990

The reaction in financial markets to developments in the Gulf has varied from country to country. The fall in equity prices was particularly marked in Japan: the Nikkei index fell from over 30,000 at the beginning of August to just above 20,000 at end-September, though by early November around a third of this fall had been reversed. These falls seem to have been due to the relatively bigger impact of the rise in oil prices on Japan, a substantial oil importer, weakness in the Japanese equity market before the crisis emerged, worries about land prices (which underpin many equity prices) and the previous, exceptionally high, level of price/earnings ratios. At the end of 1989, Japanese equities were trading on a multiple of over 70 times estimated earnings; this had fallen to around 55 times at end-July and 40 times at end-September. These multiples compare with figures of 14 in the United States and 9 in the United Kingdom; corresponding figures for 1985 were 35 in Japan, 14 in the United States and 14 in the United Kingdom. During the last few years, equity prices in the United Kingdom and the United States have followed broadly similar trends, while those in Japan have moved rather differently, apparently being more heavily influenced by purely domestic factors.

PDFFinancial market developments

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