Tokyo stocks close slightly lower as trade worries dampen buying

Tokyo stocks closed slightly lower on Wednesday, giving up early gains in the absence of fresh buying pegs while worries over US-China trade frictions persisted.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index inched down 0.08% or 18.43 points to 22 644.31 while the broader Topix index also slipped 0.08% to 1 744.71.

The Tokyo market opened higher with sentiment lifted by gains on Wall Street thanks to robust US corporate results.

But the market later sank as traders hunted in vain for fresh buying opportunities.

"The current positive factors include higher US stock prices driven by the advances of mega tech companies such as Apple," said Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities.

"The main damper is the US-China trade row," he told AFP.

"For now there is concern over how this will develop," he said, adding a deal could still be struck even though the world's two biggest economies continue to verbally attack each other.

The US Trade Representative announced on Tuesday that the first round of President Donald Trump's 25% punitive tariffs on China would hit $50bn in goods starting August 23.

Tokyo investors will also be increasingly cautious ahead of US-Japan trade talks in Washington on Thursday, analysts said.

Panasonic, which supplies batteries to Tesla, closed down 0.62% at ¥1 441.5, giving up gains after Tesla chief Elon Musk hinted at taking the electric car maker private.

SoftBank Group, an active investor in the IT sector, rallied 4.77% to ¥10 530 following gains in technology shares on Wall Street.

Cosmetic maker Shiseido tumbled 4.40% to ¥7 548 as its annual profit guidance fell short of market expectations.

The dollar was trading at ¥111.24 against ¥111.37 in New York on Tuesday afternoon.

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