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Tokyo: Stocks close lower

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[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks ended lower on Wednesday despite gains on Wall Street, but the downside was limited by bargain-hunting after recent declines on the market.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which jumped 2.15 per cent in the previous session, fell 0.23 per cent or 49.66 points to end at 21,378.73, while the broader Topix index lost 0.52 per cent or 8.45 points to 1,609.49.

Falls in share prices were partly due to the fact that a number of stocks went ex-dividend from Wednesday, meaning investors who buy them today will not be entitled to the most recently declared payout, analysts said.

But "some bargain-hunting purchases are preventing shares from falling" too significantly, Minami Koura, strategist at Daiwa Securities, said in a commentary.

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Investors were also taking a wait-and-see attitude ahead of key US-China trade talks later this week, they said.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will visit Beijing for a new round of trade talks on March 28-29, followed by a trip to the United States by China's top negotiator in April, the Chinese commerce ministry said last week.

The back-to-back trips come as Washington and Beijing battle over the final shape of a trade deal, with American officials demanding profound changes to Chinese industrial policy.

The dollar fetched 110.59 yen in Asian trade, against 110.50 yen in New York late Tuesday.

In Tokyo, carmakers were among losers, with Toyota closing down 2.02 per cent at 6,623 yen and Nissan dropping 3.49 per cent to 925 yen.

Banks were also lower, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial down 2.37 per cent at 3,910 yen and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial down 1.42 per cent at 553.6 yen.

 

AFP