Tokyo stocks open lower as yen ticks up

Tokyo, Japan | AFP | Tuesday – Tokyo stocks opened lower Tuesday after three days of gains, weighed down by a firm yen and a cronyism scandal dogging Japan’s premier.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.34 percent, or 74.40 points, to 21,749.63 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was down 0.32 percent or 5.63 points, at 1,735.67.

"Investor sentiment was weighed down by the yen’s uptick" against the dollar after a drop in Wall Street and lower US bond yields, Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, told AFP.

The dollar sank to 106.34 yen from 106.40 yen in New York Monday afternoon and 106.64 yen in Tokyo earlier.

A stronger yen is a negative for Japanese exporters as it makes their products less competitive abroad while eroding repatriated profits.

On Wall Street Monday, the Dow and S&P 500 both fell on revived fears of a trade war while the tech-heavy Nasdaq pushed to a fresh record high.

Sengoku at Tokai Tokyo said the market was watching a cronyism scandal in Japan although its negative impact is so far limited.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has faced mounting pressure in recent days over the 2016 sale of state-owned land to one of his supporters at a price well below market value.

Finance Minister Taro Aso admitted official documents had been altered but said he did not intend to step down.

"The market is concerned as it certainly has a negative impact on the Abe government.





"On the other hand, the there is no decent opposition party which could replace (Abe’s) ruing Liberal Democratic Party," which would keep political turmoil from happening, Sengoku said.

Carmakers dropped with Toyota falling 0.70 percent to 6,909 yen and Honda off 1.84 percent at 3,670 yen. 

Banks were also lower with Sumitomo Mitsui down 1.03 percent at 4,580 yen

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