Tokyo stocks fell for the first time in five market days in directionless trading Thursday, as investors retreated to the sidelines after U.S. President Donald Trump signed legislation supporting protesters in Hong Kong into law.
The 225-issue Nikkei average dropped 28.63 points, or 0.12 percent, to end at 23,409.14, after advancing 64.45 points Wednesday.
The Topix index of all TSE first section issues finished down 2.92 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,708.06, following a 5.27-point rise the previous day.
Both indexes came under pressure amid concerns that Trump’s move could escalate the U.S.-China trade war, brokers said. These worries outweighed the impact of a record-breaking advance on Wall Street and the yen’s slight fall against the dollar, they said.
Thursday’s stock market fall was limited and the indexes fluctuated narrowly as market players awaited additional news on the U.S.-China trade dispute, brokers said.
China did not say what kind of countermeasures it will take after Trump’s move.
“The market still presumes that the United States and China will sign a phase-one trade deal,” said Chihiro Ota, general manager for investment research and investor services at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.
Still, “market players refrained from active trading as they were unsure of what effects the U.S. law will have” on trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing, Ota said.
Investors also wanted to see how the U.S. stock market will react when it opens after Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.
On the TSE’s first section, falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,416 to 628, while 108 issues were unchanged. Volume dropped to 925 million shares from Wednesday’s 1.077 billion shares.
Kuraray Co. shed 1.20 percent, in response to the chemical firm’s announcement Wednesday of a cut in its net profit forecast for this year.
Drug wholesalers Alfresa Holdings Corp., Medipal Holdings Corp., Suzuken Co. and Toho Holdings Co. fell on news reports that the Fair Trade Commission has raided them for suspected bid-rigging.
Among other losers were industrial robot producer Fanuc Corp. and clothing store chain Fast Retailing Co.
On the other hand, Panasonic Corp. rose 2.82 percent on optimism that its reported pullout from the semiconductor business will lead to progress in its structural reform, market sources said.
Also on the positive side were drugmaker Nippon Shinyaku Co. and beverage-maker Asahi Group Holdings.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key December contract on the Nikkei average dropped 70 points to end at 23,410.