Tokyo stocks close down on worries over trade war

Tokyo (AFP) – Tokyo stocks fell on Monday amid lingering worries over a US-China trade war, while the impact of a strong earthquake that shook western Japan earlier in the day was limited.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.75 percent or 171.42 points to 22,680.33, while the broader Topix index was down 0.98 percent or 17.61 points at 1,771.43.

“We still need more time to assess the impact of today’s earthquake on the market, it has been so far limited,” said Hikaru Sato, senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

About an hour before the opening bell in Tokyo, a powerful quake rocked Japan’s second city of Osaka, killing three people including a nine-year-old girl and injuring scores of others. 

“The market has shifted its focus on Wall Street reactions to the latest phase of a trade dispute between the US and China,” Sato told AFP.

US stocks retreated over tit-for-tat tariff announcements by Washington and Beijing ignited a trade war that could spread, with the Dow closing down 0.3 percent at 25,090.48 on Friday.

“Concerns over a US-China trade war are weighing on the market, prompting profit-taking sales,” Yoshihiro Ito, chief strategist at Okasan Online Securities, said in a commentary.

The dollar fetched 110.48 yen in Asian afternoon trade, against 110.68 yen in New York late Friday.

Osaka-based Panasonic slipped 2.65 percent to 1,524.5 yen while Sony was down 1.57 percent at 5,359 yen.

Honda dropped 1.30 percent to 3,487 yen and Nissan fell 0.73 percent to 1,083 yen.

Banks also lost ground as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial was down 0.83 percent at 653.2 yen with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial down 1.10 percent at 4,478 yen.