Tokyo stocks open lower on trade war fears

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Tokyo stocks opened lower on Thursday as the yen remained at a relatively high level against the dollar while traders continued to fret over US-China trade frictions.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.44 percent, or 94.32 points, to 21,508.27 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was down 0.59 percent, or 9.29 points, at 1,563.04.

“As there are few fresh factors to move the market today, Japanese shares are seen trading negatively at the start,” Toshiyuki Kanayama, senior market analyst at Monex, said in a commentary.

Investors were closely watching the US-China trade talks and whether Washington follows through on its threat to hike tariffs on Chinese-made imports on Friday, analysts said.

The dollar changed hands at 110.01 yen in early Asian trade, down slightly from 110.10 yen in New York on Wednesday.

In Tokyo, automakers mostly lost with Toyota trading down 2.50 percent at 6,590 yen, Nissan down 1.49 percent at 860.9 yen and Honda off 3.27 percent at 2,891.5 yen.

Toyota’s results published on Wednesday disappointed investors with net profits down by nearly a quarter and forecasts falling short of expectations.

Meanwhile, Honda said net profit plunged 42.4 percent to 610 billion yen, citing losses related to the reorganisation of its automobile production in Europe.

Panasonic was up 0.76 percent at 988 yen ahead of its results due at the market close, and ahead of a hastily-arranged joint press conference with Toyota, reportedly about expanding cooperation on electric vehicles.

SoftBank Group was up 1.17 percent at 11,605 yen with its results also due after the market closes.

Its mobile unit SoftBank Corp rallied 5.79 percent to 1,387 yen after it reported better-than-expected operating profit and full-year profit forecasts — also saying it plans to boost dividend.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended flat at 25,967.33 while the broader S&P closed down 0.2 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq fell 0.3 percent.

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