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Tokyo: Stocks close lower on strong yen, political woes

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[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks lost ground on Friday, giving up their early gains, with market sentiment hit by a strong yen and concerns lingering over political risks in the US and Japan.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.58 per cent, or 127.44 points, to close at 21,676.51, However, it rose 0.97 per cent over the week.

The broader Topix index was down 0.40 per cent, or 6.97 points, at 1,736.63, for a weekly gain of 1.23 per cent.

Tokyo shares opened slightly higher after US stocks ended mixed as worries about US President Donald Trump's trade policy offset a batch of largely positive US economic data.

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The Dow rose 0.5 per cent but the S&P and Nasdaq both closed down 0.1 per cent.

Tokyo shares, however, fell into negative territory as the yen advanced against the dollar in late trading.

"The 105 yen level is still acceptable but if the dollar falls below 105 yen, it's going to have a big negative impact on shares," Shinichi Yamamoto, broker at Okasan Securities in Tokyo, told AFP.

The dollar fetched 105.88 yen in Asian afternoon trade, down from 106.39 yen in New York.

"Ahead of a weekend and without fresh material that can move the market, investors are taking a wait-and-see attitude," SBI Securities said in a commentary.

Investors remained cautious amid worries over Trump's protectionist trade policy and growing pressure on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government over a favouritism scandal, they said.

Japan's finance minister will skip a G-20 meeting next week to address parliament as pressure mounts over the scandal and alleged cover-up dogging the prime minister.

"It's hard for investors to actively buy shares due to political concerns in Japan and the US," said Mr Yamamoto.

In Tokyo trade, Sony dropped 1.37 per cent to 5,371 yen and Panasonic lost 0.29 per cent to 1,684 yen with game giant Nintendo down 0.10 per cent at 48,990 yen.

Carmakers were mixed, with Nissan trading up 0.13 per cent at 1,123.5 yen but Toyota down 0.67 per cent at 6,884 yen.

AFP