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Tokyo stocks fall further on yen’s ascent

JIJI

Stocks lost further ground on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Friday, with investor sentiment dampened by the yen’s rise.

The 225-issue Nikkei average lost 112.91 points, or 0.58 percent, to finish at 19,234.62. On Thursday, the key market gauge shed 90.45 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues closed down 6.53 points, or 0.42 percent, at 1,544.54, after falling 2.62 points the previous day.

Stocks met with selling from the outset of Friday’s trading as the yen strengthened against the dollar.

Export-oriented issues met with selling, briefly pushing down the Nikkei average more than 170 points early in the morning session.

The market resisted further falls but lacked vigor throughout the day.

“As the dollar fell below ¥113.50 despite stronger-than-expected U.S. economic indicators released on Wednesday, markets players took a wait-and-see stance overall,” an official of a major securities firm said.

“Players retreated to the sidelines to see the details of a tax reform” expected to be announced by U.S. President Donald Trump in weeks, said Hiroaki Hiwada, strategist at Toyo Securities Co.

“Active purchases were also held in check ahead of a three-day weekend in the United States,” Hiwada added. Wall Street will be closed on Monday for Washington’s Birthday.

Hiwada said that the market is expected to level off until the tax reform is announced.

An official of a bank-affiliated securities firm said that with few fresh market-moving factors expected next week, trading is unlikely to be active.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 963 to 887 in the TSE’s first section, while 152 issues were unchanged.

Volume slightly grew to 2.029 billion shares from Thursday’s 2.027 billion shares.

Automakers Toyota, Nissan and Honda, technology giant Hitachi, electronics-maker Panasonic, air conditioner producer Daikin and other export-oriented names were downbeat due to the higher yen.

Financial issues, such as mega-bank groups Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho, brokerage firm Nomura and insurers Dai-ichi Life and Tokio Marine, met with profit-taking after their U.S. peers lost ground in New York Thursday.

Electronics and machinery maker Toshiba dived 9.23 percent, reflecting increasing worries about a possible demotion to the TSE’s second section or delisting due to an estimated excess of debts over assets at the March end of the current fiscal year.

By contrast, ANA rebounded thanks to buybacks after the previous day’s news conference, which the airline set up to announce an important management issue, was in fact to announce the appointment of a new president.

Brewers Asahi and Kirin, food-maker Ajinomoto and game-maker Nintendo were also buoyant.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average fell 130 points to end at 19,200.