Tokyo stocks close lower on geopolitical jitters

 07 Mar 2017 - 11:04

Tokyo stocks close lower on geopolitical jitters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid.


Tokyo: Tokyo stocks slipped Tuesday as investors were spooked by global political uncertainties following North Korea's missile test, while eyes are on key US jobs data due later in the week.

Japanese traders followed Wall Street's sell-off, with analysts pointing to concerns including the lack of progress on President Donald Trump's economic agenda and questions about the chances of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates next week.

Adding to the unease is the French presidential election campaign, with markets fearing a victory by far-right, anti-European Union candidate Marine Le Pen. 

"The market's already mostly priced in a March rate hike" by the Fed, said Kiyoshi Ishigane, chief strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management.

"But we're yet to see what the latest non-farm payrolls data look like. Also the market has yet to figure out what path beyond March the (Fed policy board) will be taking," he told Bloomberg News.

"Ahead of major events in the United States like the Fed meeting, investors tend to stay away from trading."

The Nikkei 225 closed down 0.18 percent, or 34.99 points, at 19,344.15, while the Topix index of all first-section issues was flat, edging up 0.14 points to 1,555.04.

Toyota fell 0.21 percent to 6,430 yen, bank Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group was off 0.96 percent at 4,326 yen and market heavyweight Fast Retailing, which operates Uniqlo clothing stores, sank 1.54 percent to 35,680 yen. 

Nintendo, however, jumped 1.85 percent to 24,690 yen after reports of robust sales for its new Switch console, which hit stores last week.

Yamato Holdings climbed 0.45 percent to 2,452 yen after the top parcel delivery firm said it was in talks with Amazon and other large customers to raise prices for the first time in 27 years as its all-day, everyday delivery model comes under financial pressure.

Its stock fell 4.01 percent on Monday on the possibility that the group would retroactively compensate parcel carriers for unpaid overtime, which reportedly could reach tens of billions of yen.

Sharp soared 5.9 percent to 377 yen, the highest in more than three years, on optimism over its future after Japan's Nikkei business daily said Taiwan's Foxconn may sell part of its stake in the hard-hit electronics firm.

The move would pave the way for Sharp to return to the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section, it said.

The dollar was at 113.97 yen, up from 113.90 yen New York on Monday.