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Tokyo stocks open lower ahead of Fed outcome

Dec 19 2018 08:10

Tokyo - Tokyo stocks opened lower on Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of the US central bank policy meeting while the Japanese mobile unit of SoftBank Group flopped on its debut.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.23% or 48.63 points to 21 066.82 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was down 0.21% or 3.27 points at 1 559.24.

"A wait-and-see mood will likely grow ahead of the outcome of an FOMC meeting which is expected to be out in early hours of Thursday in Japan," Okasan Online Securities said in a note.

Analysts are also watching for Wednesday's Fed decision, which comes amid intense pressure from President Donald Trump on the US central bank to keep rates low.

"Hopes for rate rises in 2019 are dwindling... The dollar is dropping against the yen, hurting investor sentiment in Tokyo," said Seiichi Suzuki, senior market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Centre.

A stronger yen is negative for Japanese exporters as it makes their products less competitive abroad and erodes the value of profits when repatriated.

The dollar was trading at ¥112.43 against ¥112.51 in New York on Tuesday afternoon.

Shares in SoftBank's mobile unit traded well below the IPO price on Wednesday in a disappointing debut on the Tokyo stock market for the Japanese telecoms giant.

A spokesman for the firm confirmed it had raised around ¥2.65trn via the IPO, making it Japan's largest as expected, but investor appetite at the bell was muted, the stock opening at ¥1 463 ($13), down from the ¥1 500 yen IPO price.

In trade in other individual shares, oil explorer Inpex fell 5.54% to ¥1 024 amid rapidly plunging petroleum prices.

Nintendo lost 1.71% to ¥30 460 and Sony fell 1.34% to ¥5 507.

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