Tokyo stocks down by close

 20 Apr 2017 - 11:57

Tokyo stocks down by close
Photo: AFP.

AFP

Tokyo: Tokyo stocks closed slightly lower Thursday after spending most of the day in positive territory, with a tumble in market heavyweight Japan Post acting as a millstone.

The Japanese currency has been gaining in recent weeks as fears about a US-North Korea clash had jittery investors looking for safe investments.

On Thursday, the dollar ticked up to 108.85 yen from 108.69 yen in Asia on Wednesday, a plus for Japanese shares as a weaker yen boosts exporters' profitability.

There was also support from figures showing exports in March saw their biggest gain for more than two years.

But the market turned lower in the afternoon following sharp falls in Japan Post Holdings, a former state-owned firm that also functions as the world's biggest bank by deposits.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down 1.71 percent to 18,430.49 but the Topix index of all first-section issues ticked up 0.09 percent, or 1.39 points, to finish at 1,472.81.

"Geopolitical angst, a faltering US economy and the UK snap election are consuming investors mindsets," said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA.

"With so many uncertainties offering few incentives for investors to re-engage risk exposure, clearly there is little market bravado as dealers appear to be disposed to participate after the fact, rather than play the post-election knee-jerk."

The Nikkei business daily said Japan Post was considering a write-off that could reach several billion dollars linked to Australian transport logistics giant Toll Holdings which it bought in 2015.

Its $5.0 billion takeover of Toll was Japan Post's first overseas acquisition. But lower commodity prices have hit the Australian economy and, in turn, the logistics sector, the Nikkei said.

Japan Post closed 2.66 percent lower at 1,313 yen.

Banking giant Mitsubishi UFJ tacked on 1.70 percent to 666.6 yen while automakers broadly rose with Toyota up 1.03 percent at 5,754 yen.

Canon rose 2.65 percent to 3,483 yen after Japan's Nikkei business daily reported its first-quarter operating profit likely nearly doubled, largely owing to the impact of its acquisition of Toshiba's medical equipment business.

Toshiba, struggling to rehabilitate itself after taking massive losses from US nuclear projects, jumped 5.12 percent to 219.5 yen.

The Mainichi newspaper, citing documents it obtained, reported that Taiwan's Foxconn is eyeing a 20 percent stake in Toshiba's memory chip business with the rest to be held by Japanese and US companies including Apple, Amazon and Dell.

Earlier reports in Japanese media said Foxconn had bid 3 trillion yen in the initial tendering round for the unit, but there were concerns about its sensitive technology falling in foreign hands.