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Nikkei falls below 20,000 on yen’s rise


Stocks ended lower on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Friday under the pressure of the yen’s rise against the dollar, pushing down the benchmark Nikkei average below 20,000 for the first time in three days.

The Nikkei 225 fell 76.93 points, or 0.38 percent, to end at 19,952.33. On Thursday, the key market gauge lost 50.78 points.

The Topix index of all first-section issues finished down 2.37 points, or 0.15 percent, at 1,631.45, after falling 0.56 point the previous day.

Selling outpaced buying after the dollar briefly fell below ¥110. The dollar’s weakness mainly reflected weaker-than expected readings in the U.S. Institute for Supply Management’s nonmanufacturing business index for July, which came out Thursday after the Tokyo market closed, brokers said.

In addition, the market remained relatively quiet as investors retreated to the sidelines before U.S. government jobs data for July set to be released later on Friday, brokers said.

The dollar’s weakness may also have stemmed from a news report that U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate possible ties between President Donald Trump’s election campaign team and Russia, said Chihiro Ota, general manager for investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

After a number of robust corporate earnings reports came out in the final stages of announcements, market participants were “scrutinizing the results more carefully, rather than simply looking at the positive or negative headline figures,” Ota said.

The lingering sluggishness of the Nasdaq composite index may have also dampened investor sentiment in the Tokyo market, said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.

He predicted that the situation is likely to continue next week. Additional Japanese corporate earnings reports are expected to “only create individual (stock) movements” and be insufficient to affect the whole market, he said.

Rising issues outnumbered falling ones 1,107 to 775 in the TSE’s first section, while 140 issues were unchanged.

Volume fell to 1.515 billion shares from Thursday’s 1.680 billion shares.

Calbee was downbeat after the potato chip maker reported dismal earnings, unable to produce enough of its mainstay product due to a potato supply shortage in Hokkaido — a major production area — which was damaged by a typhoon last year.

Also on the negative side due to disappointing business performances or estimates were household products maker Lion, beer brewers Kirin and Sapporo, as well as semiconductor-manufacturing equipment maker Disco.

By contrast, automaker Suzuki, precision instrument maker Nikon and medical equipment manufacturer Terumo attracted purchases on brisk earnings.

Automaker Mazda was also buoyant after media reports that it is in the final stages of talks on forming a capital alliance with industry leader Toyota, but Toyota ended lower.