Tokyo stocks down after Trump voices forex concerns
Tokyo stocks fell Thursday, with exporters hit as the yen jumped on comments from US President Donald Trump that the dollar’s value was too high, while tensions on the Korean peninsula also dented sentiment.
The greenback broadly weakened after Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that the US unit “is getting too strong” and he would prefer to keep interest rates low.
“I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that’s my fault because people have confidence in me. But that’s hurting — that will hurt ultimately,” Trump told the paper.
“Look, there’s some very good things about a strong dollar, but usually speaking the best thing about it is that it sounds good.”
Against the yen, the dollar edged down to 109.04 yen from 109.07 in New York and well down from the 111 yen level earlier this week.
Japan’s currency — traditionally seen as a safe investment in times of turmoil or uncertainty — had already been rising amid concerns over last week’s US missile strike on Syria and fears over a clash with North Korea.
A stronger yen is a negative for Japanese shares, however, as it hurts exporters’ profitability.
“The yen has been left vulnerable to upward pressure due to geopolitical risks, and you have Trump making people wonder if he’s going to influence the Federal Reserve’s policy,” said Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Nomura Holdings.
“Investors of Japanese equities are in the process of testing where the bottom would be,” he told Bloomberg News.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.68 percent, or 125.77 points, to end the day at 18,426.84, while the Topix index of all first-section issues was down 0.76 percent, or 11.23 points, at 1,468.31.
In share trading, Toyota fell 1.15 percent to 5,731 yen while smaller rival Mitsubishi Motors lost 2.45 percent to close at 637 yen.
Japan’s Asahi newspaper said that Washington has demanded bilateral trade talks with Tokyo in a push to boost its presence in Japan’s automobile and agricultural sectors.
Vice President Mike Pence is due to arrive in Japan next week for economic talks.
Sony fell 0.34 percent to 3,446 yen while Panasonic dropped 1.36 percent to 1,228.5 yen.
Toshiba dropped 5.01 percent to 210.1 yen as speculation continued to swirl over the planned sale of its prized memory chip unit to plug huge losses.
Japanese media said Toshiba has a short-list of potential buyers — US-based Western Digital, Taiwan’s Foxconn, SK Hynix of South Korea and US semiconductor firm Broadcom in a joint bid with US investment fund Silver Lake Partners.
Western Digital, which operates a major chip-making factory in Japan with Toshiba, has reportedly told its Japanese partner that it expects to be prioritised in negotiations for the unit.
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