Tokyo shares close lower as banks, exporters struggle

 21 Mar 2017 - 10:15

Tokyo shares close lower as banks, exporters struggle
File Photo.


Tokyo: Tokyo stocks slipped Tuesday after a long holiday weekend as banks and some major exporters including Sony and Panasonic struggled under the strong yen.

Traders moved into the Japanese currency -- widely seen as a safe investment -- after G20 finance ministers failed to renew a longstanding anti-protectionist pledge at a weekend meeting, fuelling concerns about international trade.

Markets were also left guessing about the pace of future Federal Reserve rate rises after Chicago Fed President Charles Evans suggested Monday there could be more increases this year but Minneapolis boss Neel Kashkari said the policy board should take its time.

Last week the US central bank raised its benchmark interest rate a quarter point, the second increase since President Donald Trump's election and only the third in a decade.

"There's a wait-and-see mood as the yen moves in a negative direction for stocks," Toshihiko Matsuno, a senior strategist at SMBC Friend Securities, told Bloomberg News.

"Fed officials have been making comments that are less optimistic about rate hikes, and moves to price in three rate hikes this year are taking a step back."

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.34 percent, or 65.71 points, to end the day at 19,455.88. The Topix index of all first-section issues slipped 0.16 percent, or 2.43 points, to 1,563.42.

The dollar edged up to 112.73 yen from 112.50 yen in New York on Monday but was still well down from 113.33 on Friday in Tokyo.

A strong yen is negative for Japanese exporters as it erodes their repatriated profits.

Japanese financial markets were closed Monday for a national holiday.

In share trading Panasonic fell 0.91 percent to 1,245 yen and Sony lost 0.32 percent to finish at 3,627 yen.

Banking giant Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group dropped 1.75 percent to 745.7 yen while Rival Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group shed 0.83 percent to 4,266 yen.

Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing, a market heavyweight, fell 0.53 percent to 35,850 yen, and factory robot maker Fanuc dropped 0.30 percent to 23,005 yen.

Nintendo jumped 2.67 percent to 26,265 yen on reported strong demand for its new Switch console.