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Tokyo: Stocks fall ahead of Powell testimony

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[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks ended lower on Wednesday as investors took to the sidelines ahead of key US congressional testimony by Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.15 per cent, or 31.67 points, at 21,533.48, while the broader Topix index gave up 0.23 per cent, or 3.57 points, at 1,571.32.

"Ahead of Powell's testimony, investors were seen taking a wait-and-see approach during US trading overnight, and the Japanese market kept the tone," SMBC Nikko Securities said in a note.

Mr Powell is set to testify on Wednesday after a strong June jobs report dampened expectations for aggressive Fed action.

Market expectations have shifted to a smaller interest rate cut than had been expected before the jobs data.

Some analysts also think there is a chance the Fed will not cut at all.

The Tokyo market began on Wednesday on a weak tone, after a lukewarm performance by New York shares, with the Dow ending down 0.1 per cent at 26,783.49.

"The Nikkei average was weak at the start, but relative weakness of the yen provided support," SMBC Nikko said.

The dollar fetched 108.88 yen, nearly flat from 108.84 yen in New York late on Monday.

"But towards the end of the session, the market lost a sense of direction and zigzagged," it said.

Slight weakness in Chinese shares also discouraged investors, Okasan Online Securities added in a separate note.

Among major shares, Toyota spent most of the day in negative territory, rising briefly above water before closing down 0.10 per cent at 6,908 yen.

Nintendo lost 1.33 per cent to 40,000, while Panasonic fell 0.98 per cent to 927.5 yen.

SoftBank Group lost 0.56 per cent to 5,182 yen.

But Sony managed to stay in positive territory, rising 1.10 per cent to 5,955 yen.

Mizuho Financial Group fell 0.50 per cent to 158.5 yen.

AFP