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Tokyo stocks close lower on trade worries, typhoon damage

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A pedestrian stands in front of an electronics stock indicator displaying individual stock prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on February 22, 2018. Tokyo stocks opened lower on February 22 following falls on Wall Street after minutes from the US central bank’s last meeting solidified expectations of interest rate hikes ahead. / AFP PHOTO / Kazuhiro NOGI

Tokyo stocks closed lower on Wednesday, weighed down by the country’s worst typhoon in 25 years and continued worries about trade conflicts.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended down 0.51 percent or 116.07 points at 22,580.83, while the broader Topix index was down 0.77 percent or 13.28 points at 1,704.96.

Some shares dropped with the closure of the Kansai International Airport, a key cargo hub particularly for electronic parts, after Typhoon Jebi made landfall Tuesday.

At least 10 people were killed in the storm and it was unclear when service would resume at the airport, which accommodates over 400 flights per day.

Shares in Nankai Electric Railway, which operates a train line serving the airport as well as regional lines, plunged 4.44 percent to 2,776 yen.

Chip-making devices maker Tokyo Electron closed 1.64 percent lower at 18,210 yen and chip maker Renesas Electronics slipped 0.61 percent to 807 yen.

Cosmetics firm Shiseido fell 4.15 percent to 7,561 yen on fears the typhoon could scare off tourists, who snap up the company’s products in Japan.

Investors were also eyeing the latest in the ongoing spat between the US and Canada after President Donald Trump again threatened to leave Canada out of a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement.

“In addition to renewed fears over the US-China trade conflict, falls in Chinese share prices are having a chilling effect on investor sentiment,” Yoshihiro Ito, chief strategist at Okasan Online Securities, said in a commentary.

The dollar fetched 111.48 yen in Asian trade, against 111.45 yen in New York late Tuesday.

Talks with Ottawa are set to resume in Washington on Wednesday to try to salvage the three-nation NAFTA, although Trump has said he could proceed with Mexico alone.

Analysts also are monitoring the state of trade relations between Washington and Beijing, with the possibility of a new wave of punitive tariffs hitting as soon as this week.

In Tokyo, China-linked shares were among losers, with construction machine maker Komatsu dropping 3.93 percent to 3,025 yen and industrial robots maker Fanuc down 0.65 percent at 21,255 yen.

Separately, automaker Toyota was down 0.76 percent to 6721 yen after it announced it was recalling over a million hybrid vehicles because of a fire risk.


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