Tokyo: Stocks open 0.20% lower after 10-day rally

[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks opened 0.20 per cent lower on Friday, taking a breather after rising for the past 10 days, and as a string of lacklustre data fuelled concerns about Japan's economy.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange slipped 41.19 points to 20,510.27 at the start.

The Nikkei's winning session on Thursday marked its longest consecutive rally since a 13-day run in February 1988 during the heady days of Japan's stock market bubble.

Shortly before markets opened, the government released a string of data that showed household spending logged a surprise drop in April while inflation and factory output were also lacklustre.

Tokyo also picked up a weak lead from Wall Street where the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.20 per cent, tracking dips in European bourses, amid worries about Greece's bailout.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who was attending a G7 meeting, reportedly warned of the potential for a Greek exit of the 19-nation eurozone and said such a scenario would not be "a walk in the park" for the single-currency area.

Markets have worried that the Greek government is running out of cash and may not have enough to repay loans from the IMF that are due in a series of payments from June 5.

In forex trading, the dollar, which climbed to 124.46 at one point on Thursday, hitting the highest level since December 2002, eased to 123.82 yen.

The euro recovered slightly to US$1.0960 and 135.72 yen from US$1.0947 and 135.70 late Thursday in New York.

The Japanese data showed household spending fell 1.3 per cent on-year, extending its falls to a 13th consecutive month, the internal affairs ministry said.

Japan's factory output turned up 1.0 per cent month-on-month in April, reversing a drop in the previous month, the trade ministry said.

Separate data showed core inflation, excluding volatile fresh food prices, hit 0.3 per cent year-on-year - way below the Bank of Japan's 2.0 per cent inflation target.


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