Tokyo stocks end down, Japan Post tumbles
TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed slightly lower Thursday after spending most of the day in positive territory, with Japan Post tumbling on a report it may report a writedown totalling several billion dollars.
The Japanese market was initially boosted by a dip in the yen, which has been gaining in recent weeks as fears about a US-North Korea clash had jittery investors looking for safe investments.
On Thursday, the dollar ticked up to 108.85 yen from 108.69 yen in Asia on Wednesday, a plus for Japanese shares as a weaker yen boosts exporters’ profitability.
There was also support from figures showing Japan’s exports in March saw their biggest gain for more than two years.
But the market turned lower in the afternoon, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 inching down 1.71 percent to 18,430.49.
The Topix index of all first-section issues ticked up 0.09 percent, or 1.39 points, to finish at 1,472.81.
“Geopolitical angst, a faltering US economy and the UK snap election are consuming investors mindsets,” said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA.
“With so many uncertainties offering few incentives for investors to re-engage risk exposure, clearly there is little market bravado as dealers appear to be disposed to participate after the fact, rather than play the post-election knee-jerk.”
The Nikkei business daily said Japan Post — a former state-owned firm that also functions as the world’s biggest bank by deposits — was considering a write-off that could reach several billion dollars linked to Australian transport logistics giant Toll Holdings, which it bought in 2015.
Its $5.0 billion takeover of Toll was Japan Post’s first overseas acquisition. But lower commodity prices have hit the Australian economy and, in turn, the logistics sector, the Nikkei said.
Japan Post closed 2.66 percent lower at 1,313 yen, after losing more than five percent in earlier trading.
“If the reports are true, then this is a negative” for Japan Post, said Katsuhito Sasajima, a senior analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
“But Toll’s poor performance was well known in the market, so the impact could be temporary.” Banking giant Mitsubishi UFJ tacked on 1.70 percent to 666.6 yen while automakers broadly rose with Toyota up 1.03 percent at 5,754 yen.
Canon rose 2.65 percent to 3,483 yen after Japan’s Nikkei business daily reported its first-quarter operating profit likely nearly doubled, largely owing to the impact of its acquisition of Toshiba’s medical equipment business.—AFP
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