Tokyo stocks close lower as investors await Fed

by AFP/ pic by TMR FILE

JAPAN – Tokyo stocks closed lower Wednesday as cautious investors awaited remarks by the US Federal Reserve chief as well as key Chinese data later in the week.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.85 percent or 200.14 points to end at 23,319.87 while the broader Topix was down 0.55 percent or 9.34 points at 1,700.33.

Traders were left with few major buying pegs after US President Donald Trump offered little in the way of positive news on US trade disputes with China or Europe, analysts said.

“The Nikkei index fell as hopes for the US-China trade talks dimmed and losses of Chinese shares weighed on the market,” Okasan Online Securities said.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is due to give testimony Wednesday and Thursday.

In an address Tuesday to the Economic Club of New York, Trump again criticised the Fed for raising rates too quickly and cutting too slowly.

Still, the US central bank is expected to keep rates on hold at the December policy meeting.

Instead of offering positive trade news in his highly anticipated speech, Trump threatened to raise tariffs “substantially” on Chinese goods if no deal is reached with Beijing.

“The much-awaited Trump (speech) was heavy on rhetoric and light on detail, leaving markets none the wiser,” said Rodrigo Catril, senior forex strategist at National Australia Bank.

Another factor weighing on markets is China’s factory production, retail sales and investment data due Thursday, with investors eager to gauge the health of the world’s second-biggest economy.

The dollar was trading at 109.06 yen against 108.97 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.

In individual stocks trade, Nissan lost 0.50 percent to 710.9 yen after the crisis-hit automaker chopped full-year earnings forecasts.

IT investor SoftBank Group was flat, edging up 0.07 percent to 4,277 yen, while Fujifilm soared 6.34 percent to 5,180 yen on robust earnings.