Tokyo stocks open flat as US tariff deadline nears

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Tokyo stocks opened flat on Wednesday as investors waited for news on China-US trade talks, less than a week before Washington is due to impose fresh tariffs on Chinese goods.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up just 0.07 percent or 16.46 points at 23,426.65 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was down 0.05 percent or 0.80 points at 1,719.97.

“Japanese shares are seen range-bound, with eyes on US-China trade talks and the vote in the UK,” Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.

Should the December 15 tariffs take effect, virtually all the merchandise the United States imports from China will be covered by punitive tariffs.

But the market remained somewhat positive on the prospects for a US-China trade deal, analysts said.

Overnight there were “various reports suggesting that the December 15 deadlines for the imposition of new tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese imports is likely to be deferred”, said Ray Attrill, chief currency strategist at National Australia Bank, in a note.

The dollar fetched 108.78 yen in early Asian trade, against 108.74 yen in New York.

Traders are also awaiting Thursday’s UK election, which is expected to see Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives win a big enough majority to push through his Brexit deal, analysts said.

In Tokyo, major exporters were mixed, with Toyota trading up 0.45 percent at 7,685 yen, Honda up 0.95 percent at 3,165 yen and small car expert Suzuki down 0.55 percent at 4,625 yen.

Sony was down 0.35 percent at 7,219 yen while Panasonic was up 0.70 percent at 1,065 yen.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended down 0.1 percent at 27,881.72.

© Agence France-Presse