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Tokyo stocks close lower on strong yen

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Tokyo stocks fell Thursday on a stronger yen as investors shifted their focus to the US tax cut plan after digesting the latest US rate hike.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.28 percent, or 63.62 points, to close at 22,694.45, while the broader Topix index was down 0.15 percent, or 2.70 points, at 1,808.14.

“After the big event of the Fed’s rate hike announcement, dealers have a sense of relief,” Masayuki Kubota, chief strategist at Rakuten Securities, said in a commentary.

The dollar rebounded slightly to 112.59 yen in Asian afternoon trade from 112.56 yen in New York, after the greenback dipped with no surprise coming from the Federal Reserve’s decision to lift interest rates.

The dollar was still much lower than 113.31 yen in Tokyo on Wednesday, as the latest US price data confirmed that inflation remains subdued.

“Some exporters faced selling pressure due to a relatively strong yen,” said Hikaru Sato, senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

“After ending the rate hike event, we are now focusing on the US tax cut plan,” Sato told AFP.

Senate and House Republican leaders have reached an agreement in principle on the massive tax bill, setting the stage for its final passage next week.

In Tokyo, Rakuten dropped 4.86 percent to 1,084.5 yen after a report that it plans to set up its own mobile carrier in Japan.

Shikoku Electric plunged 7.41 percent to 1,287 yen after a brokerage downgraded its estimate. It had dropped 8.31 percent the previous day following a high court decision to suspend one of its nuclear reactors.

Sony fell 0.33 percent to 5,016 and Canon fell 0.43 percent to 4,348.

Toyota was up 0.22 percent at 7,096 yen and Panasonic gained 2.35 percent at 1,676 yen after the two companies announced a tie-up in lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles.


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