TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed lower on Thursday, hit by a downgrade of first-quarter Japanese economic growth and profit-taking as investors await the result of Britain's general election.
Opinion polls are predicting a win for Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives, but a rally in recent weeks for the opposition Labour Party has led to concerns of a possible hung parliament and political uncertainty, reports AFP.
Congressional testimony from fired FBI chief James Comey into the Trump administration's Russia links, and a European Central Bank meeting were among the other key events in focus Thursday.
Shortly before markets opened, revised data showed Japan's economy expanded 0.3 percent in January-March, down from a preliminary 0.5 percent growth estimate.
"Investor sentiment had been improving under the impression that Japan's first quarter was strong, but the latest data will have people rethinking that," Ayako Sera, a market strategist with Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, told Bloomberg News.
"And we have a string of events tonight including the ECB meeting, Comey's live testimony and the UK vote which investors will want to check out."
Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.38 percent, or 75.36 points, to the day at 19,909.26, while the Topix index of all first-section issues lost 0.42 percent, or 6.68 points, to finish at 1,590.41.
The market drifted lower as the yen strengthened and Japanese bond yields spiked on speculation over the Bank of Japan's potential talk about its strategy of exiting its super-loose monetary policy.
Bloomberg News reported the bank was re-calibrating how to communicate a future exit from its massive monetary stimulus plan, without giving the impression that such a move is imminent. The report quoted "people with knowledge of discussions at the central bank".
In afternoon trading, the dollar weakened to 109.51 yen from 109.81 yen in New York.
Toyota was down 1.62 percent to end at 5,806 yen while Panasonic rose 1.05 percent to 1,487.5 yen.
Energy shares were down after crude prices sank more than five percent Wednesday in response to data that showed an unexpected rise in US stockpiles.
Energy explorer Inpex fell 1.01 percent to 1,022 yen and Japan Petroleum sank 1.40 percent to 2,239 yen.
Banks followed their US peers higher, with lender Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group advancing 1.12 percent to 4,229 yen and rival Mitsubishi UFJ rose 1.18 percent to 723 yen.