Tokyo stocks open lower as yen remains high
AFP – Tokyo stocks opened lower on Monday with the yen staying high against the dollar amid fears of a global trade war, and investors monitoring a cronyism scandal dogging Japan’s premier.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 0.87 percent or 170.43 points at 20,439.43 in early trade, while the broader Topix index edged down 0.70 percent, or 11.62 points, at 1,653.30.
The dollar fetched 104.78 yen in early Asian trade, down slightly from 104.85 yen in New York late Friday.
"Exporters are seen weighed down" by a higher yen that has been trading in a range between 104.50 yen and 105 yen to the dollar, SBI Securities said in a commentary.
The yen’s firmness comes after US President Donald Trump last week unveiled tariffs of up to $60 billion on Chinese imports, and after Japan was left off a list of countries temporarily exempt from steep new US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Investors were also cautious ahead of a key testimony in parliament on Tuesday over a political scandal that has dented Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s popularity.
Abe’s political capital is dwindling due to a widening scandal over the cut-price sale of government land to one of his supporters, with the opposition suggesting his wife Akie may have played a role.
National attention is turning to parliamentary testimony scheduled for Tuesday by Nobuhisa Sagawa, formerly the head of the finance ministry department that oversaw the land deal.
Exporters were lower with Panasonic dropping 1.91 percent to 1,563 yen, Sony down 2.09 percent at 4,992 yen and Toyota down 0.78 percent at 6,551 yen.