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Stocks fall back on weaker Wall Street

JIJI

Stocks fell back amid a wait-and-see mood on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Friday, hurt by sluggish U.S. equities overnight.

The 225-issue Nikkei average lost 68.55 points, or 0.35 percent, to finish at 19,521.59. On Thursday, the key market gauge gained 12.76 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues closed down 6.84 points, or 0.43 percent, at 1,565.85, after climbing 1.38 points the previous day.

The weakness came after U.S. stocks lost ground on the heels of U.S. President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, which lacked details on his pledged tax cuts and powerful infrastructure spending, brokers said.

Buying was held in check ahead of a two-day Group of 20 financial meeting in Germany through Saturday, they said.

The market’s topside “was heavy amid a wait-and-see mood” as players were waiting to hear what U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin may have to say about currency and trade issues at the G-20 meeting, said Hideyuki Ishiguro, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities Co.

Foreign investors were inactive as uncertainties grew over the course of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration amid the spiraling scandal involving Moritomo Gakuen, a nationalist school operator under fire over a shady state land deal, Ishiguro said.

On Thursday, Yasunori Kagoike, head of the school group, said that it received a donation of 1 million yen from Abe via his wife, Akie, while the government denied his claim.

Hiroaki Hiwada, strategist at Toyo Securities Co., said investors retreated to the sidelines “prior to the three-day weekend” through Monday in Japan.

But the market’s downside was supported by the dollar’s stability versus the yen as well as expectations for exchange-traded fund purchases by the Bank of Japan, Hiwada said.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,116 to 742 in the TSE’s first section, while 148 issues were unchanged.

Volume grew to 2.01 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.80 billion shares.

Oil companies JX Holdings, Inpex and Japex met with selling on a drop in New York crude oil futures on Thursday.

Drug makers Astellas, Daiichi Sankyo and Shionogi were downbeat after their U.S. peers lost ground in New York overnight.

Automaker Toyota and technology firm Hitachi also finished on the minus side.

By contrast, game maker Nintendo, industrial robot maker Fanuc and camera maker Canon attracted purchases.

Toshiba was also upbeat with investors taking heart from a news report that a consortium, including state-owned Development Bank of Japan and a U.S. investment firm, will be among bidders in an auction of the struggling electronics giant’s flash memory business, brokers said.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average fell 90 points to end at 19,350.