Business

Tokyo stocks open lower as US-China trade row weighs

Thursday, May 16, 2019

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TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Tokyo stocks opened lower yesterday (Thursday Tokyo time), despite more conciliatory messages from Washington on trade as investors remained worried about how the US-China row will develop.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.48 per cent or 101.38 points to 21,087.18 in early trade while the broader Topix index was down 0.34 per cent or 5.29 points at 1,538.86.

The United States had earlier softened its stance on auto imports but investors remained focussed on the US-China trade war and the health of the world's two biggest economies, analysts said.

“Caution on how the trade war will develop remains strong,” said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

“Selling also hit companies that announced slack earnings, dealing a double whammy to the market,” he told AFP.

Industry sources in the United States said President Donald Trump planned to hold off on imposing steep tariffs on imported autos while Washington pursues agreements with key trading partners.

Trump has threatened to impose 25-per cent punitive duties on autos — a possibility that has worried the European Union and Japan in particular, as well as Mexico and Canada.

But Japanese automakers nevertheless fell in trading with Toyota losing 0.91 per cent to 6,510 yen.

US economic data released yesterday were negative but also could facilitate a deal with China, Sengoku added.

The dollar slipped to 109.44 yen from 109.58 yen in New York yesterday afternoon.

Major Japanese banks fell after they announced annual profit drops. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial tumbled 2.75 per cent to 499.1 yen and Mizuho fell 1.09 per cent to 162.6 yen.


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