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Tokyo: Stocks close lower on Brexit, US shutdown worries

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[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks shed early gains and closed down on Tuesday as the yen strengthened and amid worries over Brexit and the US government shutdown.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.47 per cent, or 96.42 points, to 20,622.91, while the broader Topix index was down 0.63 per cent, or 9.94 points, at 1,556.43.

Tokyo shares had opened higher as a weak yen offset concerns over stalled Brexit talks and the month-long US government shutdown.

But they entered negative territory before the break as the yen gained ground against the dollar.

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Market voices on:

"A gradual increase in the yen against the dollar weighed on the market," Daiwa Securities senior technical analyst Hikaru Sato told AFP.

The dollar fetched 109.39 yen in Asian afternoon trade, down from 109.62 yen in London time on Monday.

The US market was closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

"As worries over the development of Brexit talks linger and there is no prospect of a solution to the US government shutdown, it is difficult to actively seek higher share prices," Yoshihiro Ito, chief strategist at Okasan Online Securities, said in a commentary.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday she would seek further talks with Brussels to try to salvage her Brexit deal, but was accused of offering nothing new to break the political deadlock just 10 weeks before Britain leaves the EU.

In Tokyo, exporters were generally lower as Toyota fell 0.48 per cent to 6,784 yen with Panasonic down 2.65 per cent at 1,064.5 yen.

China-linked shares were lower after the International Monetary Fund warned the US-China trade confrontation, among other risks, was threatening to drag down global growth.

Industrial robot maker Fanuc was down 2.09 per cent at 18,185 yen and construction machine maker Komatsu was off 1.54 per cent at 2,731.5 yen.

Zozo, run by billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, plunged 6.35 per cent to 2,121 yen after a news report said a number of shops were withdrawing from its online fashion shopping site.

AFP