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Tokyo: Stocks close down for third straight session

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Tokyo stocks fell for a third consecutive session on Thursday on revived concerns about a China-US trade deal after American lawmakers approved legislation to support Hong Kong civil rights.

[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks fell for a third consecutive session on Thursday on revived concerns about a China-US trade deal after American lawmakers approved legislation to support Hong Kong civil rights.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.48 per cent, or 109.99 points, to close at 23,038.58, while the broader Topix dipped 0.10 per cent, or 1.73 points, to 1,689.38.

Tokyo stocks had opened lower following losses on Wall Street as US lawmakers on Wednesday approved legislation that supports human rights and democracy in Hong Kong and also backs the territory's anti-China protesters, sending the measure opposed by Beijing to US President Donald Trump.

"In addition to falls in US stocks, reports that US President Trump is expected to sign legislation passed by the Congress are seen damping the Japanese market," Toshiyuki Kanayama, senior market analyst at Monex, said in a note.

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The bill requires the US president to annually review the favourable trade position that Washington grants to Hong Kong, and threatens to revoke the coveted status the semi-autonomous Chinese territory enjoys with the United States if its freedoms are quashed.

The measure now heads to Mr Trump, who has not said whether he will sign it.

"Negative news overwhelmed the positive," said Shinichi Yamamoto, a broker at Okasan Securities in Tokyo.

"But this week's fall can be seen as a pause following the recent strong buying sentiment," Mr Yamamoto told AFP. "Chances are still high that stocks climb up again after a short break."

The dollar fetched 108.58 yen in Asian afternoon trade, down from 108.62 yen as traders fled to the safe-haven Japanese currency on renewed concerns over the trade deal.

In Tokyo, semiconductor-related shares were sharply lower, with chip-making equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electron trading down 3.44 per cent at 21,735 yen and chip-testing equipment maker Advantest off 3.88 per cent at 5,200 yen.

Nissan fell 1.01 per cent to 664 yen but Toyota rose 0.36 per cent to 7,716 yen with Honda up 0.35 per cent at 3,103 yen.

AFP