Tokyo's Nikkei index closes down for third straight session

Tokyo (AFP) –


Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index fell for the third consecutive session on Thursday, with automakers battered by news that Washington was considering possible tariffs on automobile imports.

The Nikkei 225 index dropped 1.11 percent, or 252.73 points, to 22,437.01 while the broader Topix index was down 1.21 percent, or 21.66 points, at 1,775.65.

"The auto tariff news put extra selling pressure on the market," said Hikaru Sato, senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

"I don't think anything practical will happen immediately but trading in the auto sector is expected to remain sensitive for the time being," Sato told AFP.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Wednesday that US President Donald Trump was asking for vehicle import tariffs as high as 25 percent.

The market was also hit by a strong yen, with lingering concerns about the potential delay of a US-North Korea summit.

"Japanese shares are seen weighed down by concerns that the summit between the US and North Korea may be postponed, and a higher yen against the dollar with the backdrop of higher oil prices," Yoshihiro Ito, chief strategist at Okasan Online Securities, said in a commentary.

The dollar fetched 109.45 yen in Asian afternoon trade, down from 110.12 yen in New York late Wednesday.

Wall Street on Wednesday swung to a positive finish, with stocks boosted by Federal Reserve minutes that said the central bank may be willing to let inflation run slightly higher.

In Tokyo, Honda plunged 3.39 percent to 3,531 yen and Toyota dropped 3.05 percent to 7,208 yen, with Nissan down 1.75 percent at 1,118.5 yen.

Game giant Nintendo was down 2.34 percent at 42,510 yen, while Sony lost 0.97 percent to 5,100 yen.

Banks were also lower, with Mitsubishi UFJ down 1.92 percent at 699.3 yen and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial down 0.92 percent at 4,628 yen.