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Tokyo stocks sink deeper amid worries over Trump’s protectionist policy

JIJI

Stocks remained mired in a slump on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Monday amid persistent concerns over U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policy, with the benchmark Nikkei average briefly sinking below 21,000.

The 225-issue average shed 139.55 points, or 0.66 percent, to close at 21,042.09 — the worst finish since last Oct. 12. On Friday, the key market gauge tumbled 542.83 points.

The Topix index on all first-section issues was down 13.55 points, or 0.79 percent, at 1,694.79, the lowest level since Oct. 6 last year. It fell 31.86 points the previous trading day.

The Nikkei and Topix both extended their losing streaks to a fourth market day.

The Tokyo market opened lower, with investor sentiment battered by the yen’s continued strength against the dollar, brokers said.

Trump’s plan to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminum products, likely to be officially decided this week, was preventing investors from buying stocks, they added.

In the afternoon, the Nikkei slipped through the 21,000 threshold for the first time since Feb. 14 on an intraday basis.

After the Nikkei broke the psychologically important line, however, stocks showed some resilience thanks to buying on dips, pushing the key index back above the line, according to Yoshihiko Tabei, chief analyst at Naito Securities Co.

But the market failed to see follow-through buying as investors continued to worry about the Trump policy hurting global trade and economy, said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co.

Foreign traders’ selling also dampened the market in the afternoon, Tabei said.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,532 to 482 on the TSE’s first section, while 55 issues were unchanged.

Volume dropped to 1.51 billion shares, from Friday’s 1.60 billion.

Export-oriented names such as automakers Toyota, Honda and Subaru and technology firms Panasonic and Kyocera went down on the back of the strong yen.

Precision equipment producer V-Technology was hit by selling to lock in gains after its recent surge.

Other major losers included mobile phone carrier SoftBank Group and industrial robot maker Fanuc.

By contrast, beverage producer DyDo Group Holdings shot up 10.09 percent to a listing-to-date high on a rosy earnings prospect.

Also on the plus side were clothing retailer Fast Retailing and mobile phone carrier KDDI.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average dropped 140 points to 20,990.