Tokyo shares end 1.01pc lower

March 10, 2014 - 9:16:11 am

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed 1.01 percent lower Monday as the yen gained strength, and revised data showed Japan's economic growth in the last quarter of 2013 was weaker than previously thought.

The Nikkei-225 index fell 153.93 points to finish at 15,120.14, while the Topix index of all first-section shares fell 0.76 percent, or 9.36 points, to 1,227.61.

Japan's economy grew 0.2 percent in October-December and 1.5 percent through last year, slightly weaker than earlier data.

The preliminary figures showed that gross domestic product expanded 0.3 percent for the October-December period and 1.6 percent in 2013.

The country also suffered a fourth straight monthly current account deficit in January owing to a ballooning trade imbalance, stoked by soaring post-Fukushima energy bills.

The deficit in the current account, the broadest measure of Japan's trade with the rest of the world, more than quadrupled in January, totalling 1.589 trillion yen ($15.4 billion).

Investors are now eyeing the Bank of Japan's policy-setting meeting, which will wrap up on Tuesday, for signs of further monetary easing measures.

"The lower trading volume days look like they are continuing, irrespective of last week's net Nikkei gain," Toshiyuki Kanayama, market analyst at Monex, told Dow Jones Newswires.

"All eyes are on the Bank of Japan, but few really expect it to announce anything new ahead of the national sales tax hike on April 1."

There is growing concern that the tax increase will derail Japan's economic recovery by weighing on consumer spending -- and force the BoJ to act.

In Monday forex trade, the dollar bought 103.08 yen, down from 103.24 yen in New York Friday.

A stronger yen tends to be bad for shares of Japanese exporters as it makes them less competitive overseas and shrinks repatriated profits.

In share trading, Canon shares fell 0.91 percent to 3,127 yen, Sony rose 1.08 percent to 1,864 yen, Honda fell 2.04 percent to 3,732 yen and Japan Airlines (JAL) rose 0.38 percent to 5,170 yen.

The rise of JAL shares came despite the airline saying Sunday that a flight from Tokyo to San Francisco -- using one of Boeing's troubled Dreamliners -- made an emergency landing in Honolulu, reportedly due to a possible problem with its hydraulic system.

Wall Street was mixed after a better-than-expected US jobs report and despite flaring tensions in the Ukraine crisis.

The S&P 500 edged up 0.05 percent to its third record in four days and the Dow gained 0.19 percent but the Nasdaq fell 0.37 percent. (AFP)