Tokyo stocks close down 0.97pc

April 24, 2014 - 9:15:20 am

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed down 0.97 percent on Thursday as US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to announce any breakthrough in negotiations over a huge trans-Pacific trade deal.

The Nikkei 225 index ended down 141.28 points at 14,404.99, while the Topix index of all first-section shares fell 0.76 percent, or 8.91 points, to 1,164.90.

The market had turned down in the morning following a sell-off on Wall Street and as the stronger yen hit exporters' shares.

But the fall accelerated in the afternoon with traders unimpressed by the lack of progress in the 12-nation trade talks.

Obama, who began an Asian tour in Tokyo, called on Japan to take "bold steps" in moving ahead on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would cover about 40 percent of the global economy.

The talks have been stalled as Tokyo and Washington lock horns over key details, including Japanese tariffs on agricultural products and US access to its Asian ally's major auto market.

"I think it's fair to say that there are a certain sectors of the Japanese economy, the agriculture sector, the auto sector, in which market access has been restricted historically," Obama told a press briefing with Abe.

He added that those issues "at some point have to be resolved", adding that "I believe that point is now".

Investrust CEO Hiroyuki Fukunaga said after that press briefing that "it seems that nothing was really new".

"There were some hopes that an announcement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership perhaps a breakthrough might be forthcoming but that does not appear to be the case," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Some beef-related shares that had been bid up subsequently lost ground, with Nippon Meat Packers falling 1.03 percent to 1,727 yen.

Toyota shares fell 1.44 percent to 5,469 yen and Sony tumbled 3.12 percent to 1,859 yen as investors shrugged off an announcement that the electronics giant would develop a real-estate business to diversify its operations.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines slipped 0.56 percent to 354 yen after China released a seized ship owned by the Japanese firm, after it paid 2.9 billion yen ($28 million) to the Chinese side in a dispute dating back to the 1930s.

In forex markets, the dollar slipped to 102.28 yen from 102.50 yen in New York on Wednesday.

A stronger yen dents the profitability of Japanese exporters. (AFP)