World Bulletin / News Desk
Tokyo stocks fell Thursday, with exporters hit as the yen jumped on comments from US President Donald Trump that the dollar's value was too high, while tensions on the Korean peninsula also dented sentiment.
"I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that's my fault because people have confidence in me. But that's hurting -- that will hurt ultimately," Trump told the paper.
"Look, there's some very good things about a strong dollar, but usually speaking the best thing about it is that it sounds good."
Against the yen, the dollar edged down to 109.04 yen from 109.07 in New York and well down from the 111 yen level earlier this week.
Japan's currency -- traditionally seen as a safe investment in times of turmoil or uncertainty -- had already been rising amid concerns over last week's US missile strike on Syria and fears over a clash with North Korea.
A stronger yen is a negative for Japanese shares, however, as it hurts exporters' profitability.
"The yen has been left vulnerable to upward pressure due to geopolitical risks, and you have Trump making people wonder if he's going to influence the Federal Reserve's policy," said Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Nomura Holdings.
"Investors of Japanese equities are in the process of testing where the bottom would be," he told Bloomberg News.
Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.68 percent, or 125.77 points, to end the day at 18,426.84, while the Topix index of all first-section issues was down 0.76 percent, or 11.23 points, at 1,468.31.
In share trading, Toyota fell 1.15 percent to 5,731 yen while smaller rival Mitsubishi Motors lost 2.45 percent to close at 637 yen.
Japan's Asahi newspaper said that Washington has demanded bilateral trade talks with Tokyo in a push to boost its presence in Japan's automobile and agricultural sectors.
Vice President Mike Pence is due to arrive in Japan next week for economic talks.
Sony fell 0.34 percent to 3,446 yen while Panasonic dropped 1.36 percent to 1,228.5 yen.
Toshiba dropped 5.01 percent to 210.1 yen as speculation continued to swirl over the planned sale of its prized memory chip unit to plug huge losses.
Japanese media said Toshiba has a short-list of potential buyers -- US-based Western Digital, Taiwan's Foxconn, SK Hynix of South Korea and US semiconductor firm Broadcom in a joint bid with US investment fund Silver Lake Partners.
Western Digital, which operates a major chip-making factory in Japan with Toshiba, has reportedly told its Japanese partner that it expects to be prioritised in negotiations for the unit.
Volatility eased as traders focused on the world economy and corporate earnings after a week dominated by the dramatic spike in tensions over North Korea, which triggered a global sell-off before prices bounced back Monday.
Investors greeted the more conciliatory tone after US stocks dropped three days in a row last week on President Donald Trump's vow of "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to pursue its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has moved to diversify its traditionally oil-dependent economy following a sharp fall in crude prices.
In its monthly report on the global oil market, the International Energy Agency said, however, that it believes the supply glut is easing, partly because demand is growing faster.
US stocks have been in retreat since President Donald Trump Tuesday issued a fiery warning to North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
The move by one of Japan's best-known firms greatly reduces the chance of an embarrassing delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index weakened by 0.5 percent to 7,503.39 points.
The approval by the European Commission comes just over two months after the European Central Bank -- which took on the role of the eurozone's banking supervisor in 2014 -- allowed the sale to go ahead for a symbolic fee of one euro.
BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total have all published results in recent days, showing they pocketed $23 billion in net profit in the first half fo the year.
Higher cereal, sugar and dairy prices pushed food price index by 10.2 percent annually in July
HSBC was also a big riser, gaining three percent at £7.65 ($10, 8.5 euros) in late morning trade after the British banking giant announced a share buyback plan alongside a rise in first-half profits.
Both main crude contracts made strong gains, with WTI testing $50 a barrel for the first time since late May and Brent heading towards $53, while mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto saw their share price rise as commodities strengthened.