The Japanese stock market is losing on Friday and the safe-haven yen strengthened amid worries about rising U.S.-China tensions after China approved a controversial national security law for Hong Kong. U.S. President Donald Trump has announced plans to hold a news conference about China later today.
Investors also turned cautious as they digested a raft of local economic data, including weak industrial output and retail sales data for April.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 144.48 points or 0.66 percent to 21,771.83, after touching a low of 21,710.80 earlier. Japanese shares extended gains to close at a fresh three-month high on Thursday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding 0.2 percent and Fast Retailing is edging up 0.1 percent.
The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Canon is losing more than 3 percent, while Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are declining more than 1 percent each. Sony is adding almost 1 percent.
In the tech space, Advantest is lower by more than 3 percent and Tokyo Electron is declining more than 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda Motor is lower by more than 2 percent and Toyota is down 1 percent.
In the oil sector, Inpex is losing 2 percent, while Japan Petroleum is adding 0.2 percent even as crude oil prices rose almost 3 percent overnight.
Among the major gainers, Toppan Printing is rising more than 5 percent, Otsuka Holdings is gaining almost 3 percent and Daiichi Sankyo is higher by more than 2 percent.
On the flip side, Nikon Corp. is tumbling almost 10 percent after its full-year net profit plunged 88 percent from last year and the company said it cut 700 jobs in Southeast Asia as part of a restructuring of its digital camera business.
Nissan Motor is losing more than 8 percent after reporting a loss for the full year. Mitsubishi Motors is lower by more than 6 percent and Mazda Motor is down almost 6 percent.
In economic news, Japan’s industrial output skidded a seasonally adjusted 9.1 percent in April. That missed expectations for a decline of 5.1 percent following the 3.7 percent drop in March.
The total value of retail sales in Japan was down a seasonally adjusted 9.6 percent on month in April, shy of expectations for a decline of 7.0 percent following the 4.5 percent drop in March.
The unemployment rate in Japan came in at a seasonally adjusted 2.6 percent in April, beneath expectations for 2.7 percent, but up from 2.5 percent in March.
Overall consumer prices in Japan were up 0.4 percent on year in May, exceeding expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent, which would have been unchanged from the April reading. Core CPI, which excludes volatile food costs, gained an annual 0.2 percent versus forecasts for a decline of 0.2 percent after easing 0.1 percent in the previous month.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 107 yen-range on Friday.
On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday in a late-day pullback after President Donald Trump announced plans to hold a news conference about China on Friday. China has recently stepped up efforts to curtail Hong Kong’s independence, raising concerns that Trump may announce new measures that ramp up recent tensions with China. The strength seen for much of the day came following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing a continued decrease in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended May 23.
The Dow fell 147.63 points or 0.6 percent to 25,400.64, the Nasdaq slid 43.37 points or 0.5 percent to 9,368.99 and the S&P 500 dipped 6.40 points or 0.2 percent to 3,029.73.
Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.8 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index jumped by 1.2 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Crude oil prices moved higher on Thursday, driven by data showing a drop in gasoline inventories in the U.S, amid an increase in demand thanks to reopening of businesses in almost all the states in the country. WTI crude for July added $0.90 or about 2.7 percent at $33.71 a barrel.
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