June 28, 2018 / 2:40 AM / a year ago

Nikkei hits near 1-month low; large caps weak as trade war fears take toll

* Nikkei Volatility Index soars to 2-1/2-month high

* Showa Shell falls 6 percent

* Immediate support seen at 21,931.65, hit a month ago

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, June 28 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks dropped to near one-month lows on Thursday morning, taking their cue from weakness on Wall Street overnight as the simmering trade row between the United States and China hurt investors’ risk appetites.

The Nikkei declined 0.4 percent to 22,183.43 in midmorning trade, after falling to 22,038.40, the lowest level since May 30.

Index-heavy stocks such as Fast Retailing and SoftBank dropped 0.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, contributing a hefty negative 21 points to the Nikkei.

As with the many other markets, Japanese stocks have been hurt by worries that the global trade war between the U.S. and major countries, particularly China, will derail the global economy.

On Thursday, the Nikkei Volatility Index rose to 21.24, the highest level since early April.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he will use a strengthened national security review panel to deal with potential threats from Chinese acquisitions of U.S. technology, instead of imposing China-specific restrictions, which initially helped U.S. shares.

But later on Wednesday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview on Fox Business Network that Trump’s announced plan did not indicate a softened stance on China.

“The market is cautiously monitoring new headlines about the trade war. The Nikkei will probably move in a fixed range for a while with a recent low served as an immediate support,” said Shogo Maekawa, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

The Nikkei’s support level is seen at 21,931.65, an intraday level hit on May 30.

Showa Shell fell as much as 6 percent early after soaring to a record high the previous day on a media report that Idemitsu Kosan’s founding family would drop its opposition to plans for a merger with its Japanese rival.

Showa Shell shares jumped as much as 19 percent to an intraday high of 1,900 yen on Wednesday before ending up 8.5 percent.

Retailer and drugmaker stocks lost ground, with Takashimaya falling 1.4 percent and Astellas Pharma sliding 2.4 percent.

The broader Topix dropped 0.4 percent to 1,724.33. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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