Tokyo shares drop as Asian shares falter

 23 Mar 2016 - 10:15

Tokyo shares drop as Asian shares falter
A cyclist goes past a quotation board flashing share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in front of a securities company in Tokyo on March 22, 2016. Tokyo stocks rose sharply, fuelled by weakness in the yen, but broader Asian markets were subdued as last week's rally waned. AFP / TORU YAMANAKA


Tokyo: Tokyo stocks fell Wednesday in tandem with Asian peers, following a weak lead from Wall Street and the deadly Brussels bombings.

US equity markets ended lower on Tuesday as airline and travel company shares took a hit following the chaos in Belgium.

The explosions in the Brussels subway and Zaventem airport just outside the Belgian capital, claimed by the Islamic State group, left around 35 dead and more than 200 injured.

"Because we've had terror attacks fairly frequently, the market has become stronger against these shocking events," Masahiro Ichikawa, a senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management, told Bloomberg News.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index gave up 0.28 percent, or 47.57 points, to close 17,000.98. 

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares lost 0.42 percent, or 5.73 points, to finish at 1,364.20.

Among travel-related shares, All Nippon Airways lost 0.52 percent to 325.5 yen after a computer system malfunction on Tuesday forced it to cancel more than 100 domestic flights, affecting some 16,000 travellers.

The company cancelled one round trip between Tokyo and Brussels on Wednesday following the bombings, a spokeswoman told AFP.

However, Japan Airlines gained 0.72 percent to 4,174 yen. The carrier is not operating any direct flights between Tokyo and Brussels, a company spokesman said.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai shares were down slightly by the break.

"Asian markets won't see a lasting effect from the terrorist attacks in Belgium," Chihiro Ohta, general manager of investment information at SMBC Nikko Securities told Bloomberg News.

"But it's unlikely the markets will become extremely risk-on."

In other Tokyo shares, Nintendo fell 1.00 percent to 16,350 yen after a report that the game maker will stop producing the popular Wii U console this year. 

The dip followed the company's 8.18 percent rise Tuesday after it attracted more than a million users to its first smartphone game app Miitomo, which was launched Thursday.

Investors in Tokyo were also digesting comments that Nobel-winning US economist Paul Krugman made to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe late Tuesday.

Krugman urged Abe to abandon plans to raise its sales tax from the current eight percent to 10 percent next year and fire up more fiscal stimulus to boost the economy.

He was invited to share his view on Japan's economy after fellow Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz last week advised Abe to postpone the tax hike.

In currency markets, the dollar changed hands at 112.35 yen, flat from New York on Tuesday.