Tokyo stocks open lower

17 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks opened lower on Thursday, despite more conciliatory messages from Washington on trade as investors remained worried about how the US-China row will develop.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.48 percent or 101.38 points to 21,087.18 in early trade while the broader Topix index was down 0.34 percent or 5.29 points at 1,538.86, reports AFP.

The United States softened its stance on auto imports on Wednesday but investors remained focussed on the US-China trade war and the health of the world’s two biggest economies, analysts said.

“Caution on how the trade war will develop remains strong,” said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

“Selling also hit companies that announced slack earnings, dealing a double whammy to the market,” he told AFP.

Industry sources in the United States said President Donald Trump planned to hold off on imposing steep tariffs on imported autos while Washington pursues agreements with key trading partners.

Trump has threatened to impose 25-percent punitive duties on autos — a possibility that has worried the European Union and Japan in particular, as well as Mexico and Canada.

But Japanese automakers nevertheless fell in trading on Thursday, with Toyota losing 0.91 percent to 6,510 yen.

US economic data released Wednesday were negative but also could facilitate a deal with China, Sengoku added.

The dollar slipped to 109.44 yen from 109.58 yen in New York Wednesday afternoon.

Major Japanese banks fell after they announced annual profit drops. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial tumbled 2.75 percent to 499.1 yen and Mizuho fell 1.09 percent to 162.6 yen.