TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Tokyo stocks closed lower on Thursday as investors worried about mounting tensions in the US-China trade row and a political flare-up between Rome and Brussels.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.29 percent, or 60.84 points, to 20,942.53 while the broader Topix index was also down 0.29 percent, or 4.43 points, at 1,531.98.
Tokyo shares opened lower following a negative lead from Wall Street on growing concern about the trade spat.
“The market remains nervous about the fate of the US-China trade dispute,” Shinichi Yamamoto, broker at Okasan Securities in Tokyo, told AFP.
“Today’s decline underlined the weakness of current market sentiment,” Yamamoto said.
Investors were spooked on Wednesday as Chinese state media dangled the threat of cutting exports of rare earths to the United States as a counter-strike in the trade war.
It could deprive Washington of a key resource used to make everything from smartphones to military hardware.
Concerns over Italy’s fiscal situation also added to investor gloom, brokers said.
The European Union warned Italy over its soaring debt on Wednesday, putting Brussels on a collision course with Italy’s far-right coalition government.
The dollar was trading at 109.71 yen in Asian afternoon trade, slightly up from 109.62 yen in New York on Wednesday.
Nissan was down 0.43 percent to 775.8 yen as Renault officials on Wednesday sought to reassure its alliance partner over a possible tie-up between the French automaker and Fiat Chrysler.
Toyota fell 0.15 percent to 6,571 yen but Honda rose 0.36 percent to 2,769 yen.
China-related shares recovered on bargain-hunting as Komatsu gained 1.74 percent to 2,450.5 with Fanuc up 1.71 percent at 18,650 yen.
© Agence France-Presse