Tokyo stocks open flat

People walk past a stock quotation board flashing the Nikkei 225 key index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in front of a securities company in Tokyo on February 19, 2018. Tokyo stocks opened higher on February 19, buoyed by investor relief over continued gains on Wall Street last week. / AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA

Tokyo stocks opened flat on Wednesday with investors weighing drops on Wall Street against a downturn in the yen.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.10 percent or 22.72 points to 21,902.38 in early trade while the broader Topix index was down 0.08 percent or 1.49 points at 1,760.96.

“Japanese stocks will likely be weighed down by sharp drops in the New York Dow,” said Yoshihiro Ito, chief strategist at Okasan Online Securities.

“But a breather in the yen’s advance will prop the market up,” he said in a note.

On Tuesday, disappointing Walmart results weighed on US retailers and the broader American markets. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1.0 percent lower.

Investors remain uneasy after fears of US inflation and higher interest rates triggered wild swings on stock markets in recent weeks.

Shinichi Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Credit Suisse Securities, said “volatility has been subdued for now” and markets were waiting to see whether March US jobs data will show robust wage growth to predict future inflation.

“The US economic expansion since 2009 stemmed from money and low interest rates provided by the Fed, which prompted corporate capital investment… That could start a backspin,” he told AFP.

The dollar was trading at 107.47 yen, up from 107.32 yen in New York on Tuesday and the 106-yen range seen a day earlier.

“The 107-yen level is a level where companies may be able to secure profits for the next fiscal year, so expectations over solid corporate earnings will likely continue,” Mitsuo Shimizu, deputy general manager at Japan Asia Securities, told Bloomberg News.

Nintendo climbed 1.23 percent to 47,540 yen and Toyota rose 0.38 percent to 7,319 yen.

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