Tokyo stocks close lower on worries over trade row

Tokyo: Tokyo stocks closed lower Friday on fresh trade concerns after President Donald Trump suggested he would soon be targeting Japan, while chip makers were hit by a sell-off following steep losses in their US counterparts.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended down 0.80 percent, or 180.88 points, at 22,307.06, losing 2.46 percent over the week.

The broader Topix index was down 0.48 percent, or 8.10 points, at 1,684.31 and fell 2.57 percent since last Friday.

A drop in the dollar to 110.62 yen from 110.86 yen in New York added to pressure on exporters.

A report that Trump remains focused on reducing the US trade deficits with key economic partners and that Japan may be the next target contributed to investor cautiousness, SBI Securities said in a commentary.

An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal said Trump had spoken to assistant editor James Freeman of his good relationship with Tokyo but added that “will end as soon as I tell them how much they have to pay”.

Freeman wrote: “It seems that he is still bothered by the terms of US trade with Japan.”

The report comes as investors await the imposition of tariffs on another $200 billion of Chinese imports after the passing of a deadline for a public consultation. The threatened tariffs would add to the $50 billion already targeted and mark a major step up in the long-running battle between the world’s top two economies.

“Concerns over Typhoon Jebi and the damages in (quake-hit) Hokkaido remained,” SBI Securities added.

The death toll from a powerful quake that hit the northern Hokkaido rose to 18 on Friday while officials were working to fully recover power.

Electricity had resumed in nearly half of households on the island and key traffic infrastructure was also gradually restarting operations.

Hokkaido Electric, which plunged 6.43 percent on the previous day, was up 1.96 percent at 727, after it announced it had restored power to nearly half the homes in Hokkaido.

Chip firms sank on growing concerns about demand after US semiconductor giant KLA-Tencor softened its outlook for the sector.

Tokyo Electron fell 5.95 percent to 16,915 yen and Advantest plunged 7.17 percent to 2,446 yen.

Toyota shed 1.06 percent at 6,596 yen and Nissan was off 0.63 percent at 1,021 yen, while Sony closed down 0.92 percent at 6,230 yen and Panasonic eased 1.54 percent at 1,273.5 yen.

Nissin Food Holdings rose 2.40 percent to 7,250 yen after news that two Japanese top tennis players Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori it sponsors had qualified for the US Open final and semi-final, respectively.