Tokyo stocks lose steam after gains on dovish Fed signals

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Tokyo stocks turned down Thursday after three days of gains as investors found few fresh buying pegs after dovish signals from the US central bank.

The Nikkei 225 index opened slightly higher as Wall Street stocks edged up, following cues from the Federal Reserve.

But the Tokyo benchmark soon fell into negative territory and lost 0.27 percent or 58.93 points to 21,372.56 in the first 30 minutes of trade.

The broader Topix index was down 0.34 percent or 5.43 points at 1,608.04.

The Fed minutes released Wednesday lent color to the central bank’s decision of January 30 to keep interest rates steady, and confirmed a cautious stance towards further tightening made clear by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

“It’s good for global markets that the US interest rates will be stable at low levels,” said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

But it has also a negative side for Japan, he noted.

“The minutes also mean you cannot expect the dollar to strengthen much against the yen,” a negative for Japanese exports, Sengoku told AFP.

Japanese investors have become less active in buying due to US-China trade tensions and “the market needs more incentives to climb higher,” he said.

The dollar edged down to 110.71 yen from 110.89 yen in New York Wednesday afternoon.

Automakers were broadly lower with Toyota down 0.30 percent at 6,769 yen.

But Honda, which announced the shutdown of its UK plant this week, kept rising, gaining 1.75 percent to 3,086 yen in early trade.