Tokyo stocks close down 1.50pc

January 09, 2014 - 9:20:42 am

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed down 1.50 percent on Thursday on continued profit-taking with a weaker yen failing to lift the market into positive territory.

The benchmark Nikkei-225 shed 241.12 points to 15,880.33, while the Topix index of all first-section shares slipped 0.73 percent, or 9.48 points, to 1,296.75.

The slump added to losses earlier this week as profit-taking set in among investors who watched the Nikkei surge 57 percent last year -- its best performance since 1972.

Wall Street closed mostly lower after US Federal Reserve meeting minutes showed most Fed policymakers thought the US economy could withstand reduced monetary stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.41 percent to 16,462.74.

The minutes documented the discussion that preceded the Fed's December 18 announcement to trim asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion a month beginning in January.

Investors are now speculating about the possibility of a further reduction after the central bank's meeting later this month, with markets eyeing official jobs data due Friday. The figures are seen as a key gauge for any further reductions in the stimulus.

On Wednesday, payrolls firm ADP issued its closely watched report that showed US private-sector job growth surged in December, topping November for the strongest pace of the year with a net new 238,000 jobs.

A pullback on Fed easing is a positive for the dollar, which rose in afternoon Tokyo trade to 104.90 yen from 104.82 yen in New York Wednesday afternoon, but was still down from rates slightly above 105 yen in Tokyo late Wednesday.

A weaker yen tends to lift shares of Japanese exporters as it makes them more competitive abroad and inflates repatriated profits.

Exporters were mixed, with Toyota off 0.47 percent to 6,270 yen and Canon down 1.95 percent to 3,265 yen. Sony jumped 3.78 percent to 1,894 yen.

Sony's rise comes after China this week formally authorised the domestic sale of game consoles made in Shanghai's new free trade zone, potentially opening its lucrative market to the likes of Sony's PlayStation, and offerings from rivals Nintendo and Microsoft.

Nintendo shares, which soared nearly 11.0 percent Wednesday, were down 2.71 percent to 15,420 yen.  (AFP)