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Tokyo stocks open lower as yen ticks up

Mar 13 2018 06:48

Tokyo - Tokyo stocks opened lower on Tuesday after three days of gains, weighed down by a firm yen and a cronyism scandal dogging Japan's premier.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 74.40 points, to 21 749.63 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was down 5.63 points, at 1 735.67.

"Investor sentiment was weighed down by the yen's uptick" against the dollar after a drop in Wall Street and lower US bond yields, Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Centre, told AFP.

The dollar sank to ¥106.34 from ¥106.40 in New York Monday afternoon and ¥106.64  in Tokyo earlier.

A stronger yen is a negative for Japanese exporters as it makes their products less competitive abroad while eroding repatriated profits.

On Wall Street Monday, the Dow and S&P 500 both fell on revived fears of a trade war while the tech-heavy Nasdaq pushed to a fresh record high.
Sengoku at Tokai Tokyo said the market was watching a cronyism scandal in Japan although its negative impact is so far limited.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has faced mounting pressure in recent days over the 2016 sale of state-owned land to one of his supporters at a price well below market value.

Finance Minister Taro Aso admitted official documents had been altered but said he did not intend to step down.

"The market is concerned as it certainly has a negative impact on the Abe government.

"On the other hand, the there is no decent opposition party which could replace (Abe's) ruing Liberal Democratic Party," which would keep political turmoil from happening, Sengoku said.

Car makers dropped with Toyota falling 0.70% to ¥6 909 and Honda off 1.84% at ¥3 670.

Banks were also lower with Sumitomo Mitsui down 1.03% at ¥4 580.

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