Tokyo stocks open lower on US-China tension

Tokyo stocks opened lower on Friday, tracking falls on Wall Street on rising tensions between the US and China.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 0.56 percent or 123.03 points at 21,793.28 in early trade, while the broader Topix index slipped 0.65 percent or 10.20 points to 1,567.14.

"Ahead of the weekend, the Japanese market is seen weighed down by falls in US shares," Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.

It cited US President Donald Trump's decision to hold a press conference on China following Beijing's approval of a plan for a security law for Hong Kong.

The move came after Washington revoked the special status conferred on Hong Kong, paving the way for the territory to be stripped of trading and economic privileges.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the status had been withdrawn because China was no longer honouring its handover agreement with Britain to allow Hong Kong a high level of autonomy.

The dollar fetched 107.66 yen in early Asian trade, against 107.59 yen in New York late Thursday.

In Tokyo, Nissan dived 6.67 percent to 420.3 yen and its smaller alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors dropped 4.49 percent to 319 yen after Nissan reported a huge $6.2-billion annual net loss as it reels from the impact of the coronavirus.

"We are extremely concerned about the impact from the coronavirus pandemic," ratings agency Moody's said in a statement sent to AFP.

"The worsening of the global economic outlook could have great impact on demand in the auto industry," it said.

Other carmakers were also lower, with Toyota trading down 1.31 percent at 6,881 yen and Honda off 1.91 percent at 2,842.5 yen.

Among other shares, Sony was up 0.78 percent at 6,938 yen and Uniqlo casualwear operator Fast Retailing was up 0.82 percent at 59,600 yen.

Japan's jobless rate in April stood at 2.6 percent -- worse than 2.5 percent in the previous month and the highest figure since December 2017, the internal affairs ministry said minutes before the opening bell.

And Japan's industrial output plunged 9.1 percent month-on-month in April, the industry ministry said separately, noting in a commentary that the country's factory output "is rapidly declining".

On Wall Street, the Dow ended down 0.6 percent at 25,400.64.

Topics: Japan , Tokyo , Economy , Stocks , United States , Donald Trump , Mike Pompeo
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