Tokyo stocks lost further ground Thursday amid mounting concerns over the prolonged U.S.-China trade war, temporarily sending the benchmark Nikkei average below 23,000 for the first time in about three weeks.
The 225-issue Nikkei average closed at 23,038.58, down 109.99 points, or 0.48 percent, after dropping 144.08 points Wednesday.
The Topix index of all issues listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 1.73 points, or 0.10 percent, at 1,689.38. It fell 5.62 points the previous day.
The Tokyo market got off to a weaker start after Wall Street was driven down by fears of the U.S. Senate’s passage Tuesday of a Hong Kong human rights bill that could endanger a preliminary trade deal hammered out by the United States and China.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the bill, designed to support the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and sent it to President Donald Trump to sign or veto.
Stocks were dragged down further by a media report that the signing of the “phase one” trade deal by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could be delayed until next year, forcing the Nikkei to drop through the 23,000 line for the first time since Nov. 1 by giving up more than 400 points in late morning trading, brokers said.
But the market trimmed its losses after Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top negotiator, reportedly said he is cautiously optimistic about signing of the deal.
“The market was swayed by futures-led transactions prompted by developments on the U.S.-China trade front,” said Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan Inc.
Speculation about more Bank of Japan purchases of exchange-traded funds buoyed shares to some extent in the afternoon, another market source said.
On the TSE’s first section, falling issues slightly outnumbered rising ones 1,031 to 1,009, while 114 issues were unchanged. Volume declined moderately to 1.342 billion shares from Wednesday’s 1.353 billion.
Chipmaking gear manufacturer Tokyo Electron, test device maker Advantest and other issues in the semiconductor sector met with selling due to poor performances from their U.S. peers on Wednesday.
Shipping firms such as Nippon Yusen and Kawasaki Kisen were also dumped.
Among other losers were technology investor SoftBank Group and industrial robot producer Fanuc.
By contrast, power suppliers and realtors including Kansai Electric and Mitsubishi Estate attracted purchases.
Mobile phone carrier KDDI and Uniqlo clothing chain operator Fast Retailing rose as well.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average fell 90 points to end at 23,050.