TOKYO Feb 9 Japan's Nikkei share average
slipped on Thursday due to pressure from a stronger yen ahead of
a meeting this week between U.S. President Donald Trump and
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Nikkei was down 0.2 percent at midday at
The dollar drooped against its peers early on Thursday,
hovering near a 10-week low versus the yen, after U.S.
Treasury yields slumped due to investor flight to safety.
Wall Street provided few directional cues after a mixed
performance. The S&P 500 on Wednesday ended slightly
higher on earnings reports, while the Dow Jones Industrial
Average slipped as bank stocks weighed.
Hedge funds have been trimming their dollar positions since
Trump started expressing concerns about a strong dollar, said
Norihiro Fujito, a senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi
UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
Trump and his top trade adviser Peter Navarro criticised
Japan, Germany and China last week, saying these U.S. trading
partners were engaged in devaluing their currencies.
On Friday, Abe will meet with Trump and propose a new
cabinet level framework for U.S.-Japan talks on trade, security
and macroeconomic issues, including currencies, a Japanese
government official involved in planning the summit said.
"Trade and defense will be in focus," Fujito said. "We need
to see if anything is said that has an effect on currencies, or
on specific companies."
Abe, who will be accompanied by Finance Minister Taro Aso
and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, will bring a package of
steps Tokyo says could create 700,000 U.S. jobs through
private-public investment in infrastructure such as high-speed
trains, government sources say.
The market largely shrugged off hopeful signs in core
machinery order data released earlier on Thursday. Orders rose
6.7 percent in December from the previous month, swinging from
the prior month's decline, in a tentative sign of a pickup in
Japan's capital expenditure.
Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Hiroshi Nakaso said on
Thursday risks to the country's economic and price outlook were
skewed to the downside, signalling the bank's resolve to
maintain its massive monetary stimulus.
Hitachi Ltd's shares skidded 7 percent after
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd asked it to pay 89.7
billion rand ($6.68 billion) to cover costs related to a joint
venture working on a South African power plant project.
Nisshinbo Holdings Inc fell 3.9 percent after the
manufacturer dropped Mexico as a site for a new plant to make
automotive brake materials, in light of Trump's push to
renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),
according to Nikkei.
SoftBank Group Corp shares bucked the broader
market downturn and rose 2.6 percent, after the telecom giant's
October-December operating profit soared 71 percent to 295.7
billion yen, beating a Thomson Reuters Starmine SmartEstimate of
246.30 billion yen.
The broader Topix fell 0.3 percent to 1,519.60,
while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 was down 0.4 percent
(Reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Randy Fabi)