URGENT: Nikkei opens over 2% lower on U.S. economic slowdown fears

© Kyodo News

Tokyo stocks opened sharply lower Thursday, pulling the Nikkei index down more than 2 percent, amid concern that elevated commodity prices may squeeze corporate profits and slow down the U.S. economy, while the yen's strengthening against the U.S. dollar led to a sell-off of export-oriented issues.

In the first 15 minutes of trading, the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 646.26 points, or 2.40 percent, from Wednesday to 26,264.94. The broader Topix index was down 38.09 points, or 2.02 percent, at 1,846.60.

Every industry category on the top-tier Prime Market lost ground, led by marine transportation, oil and coal product, and transportation equipment issues.