Tokyo stocks slightly lower as investors jittery over N. Korea
Tokyo stocks opened slightly lower on Tuesday, with investors keeping a nervous eye on any fresh developments in the North Korea nuclear crisis.
Jittery traders stayed largely on the sidelines as South Korea said there were signs the North was preparing another missile launch, possibly an intercontinental ballistic missile similar to the one fired over Japan last week.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula spiked further after Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday — sparking global condemnation and a warning from the US of a "massive military response" if the United States or its allies were attacked.
"The Japanese stock market will be capped today due to the growing geopolitical risks," Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.
For a trading peg for now, "investors will be looking to currency rates," Okasan chief strategist Yoshihiro Ito said as a weaker yen boosted the prospects for Japanese exporters.
"Unless North Korea takes fresh military action, the stock market will probably be locked in a seesawing mode," Toshihiko Matsuno, a senior strategist at SMBC Friend Securities, told Bloomberg News.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.21 percent, or 40.42 points, to 19,467.83 by midmorning while the broader Topix index was down 0.24 percent, or 3.88 points, at 1,599.67.
The dollar firmed to 109.81 yen early Tuesday against 109.55 yen in Europe late Monday. The US markets were closed on Monday for a holiday.
Japanese carmakers and electronics companies rose, with Toyota up 0.42 percent at 6,195 yen and Panasonic gaining 0.90 percent to 1,450 yen.
Japan Post lost 0.98 percent to trade at 1,313 yen after media reports said the government was planning a second batch of share sale this month worth billions of dollars.