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.
Analysts said that while the downturn in the headline readings was disappointing, the economy continued to put in a strong performance.
Crude prices stabilised after diving more than two percent on Tuesday on increasing fears of a global supply glut, as continued production in the US and elsewhere offsets an OPEC output cut deal.
Move estimated to save company $1B in investment costs
However, most other regional markets struggled after Monday's healthy gains, despite being given a positive lead from Wall Street where the Dow and S&P 500 closed at fresh record highs.
The purchase in one fell swoop gives Amazon, which until now has operated almost entirely on the internet, a big presence in the brick-and-mortar world on Main Street, with more than 450 stores in the US, Canada and Britain.
"The Bank of Russia Board of Directors decided to cut the key rate to 9.00 percent per annum," the bank said in a statement. The cut follows a half-point decrease in late April.
Equity traders have suffered a fraught week as the crisis engulfing Donald Trump picks up pace, technology firms tumbled from recent highs and energy plays were hammered by plunging oil prices.
"In May 2017, passenger car registrations across the EU increased by 7.6 percent to 1.387 million units," ACEA said in a statement.
In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 index climbed 0.4 percent to 12,746.05 points, and the Paris CAC 40 gained 0.5 percent to 5,243.53 compared with the close on Thursday.
Eastern Mediterranean gas deposits discussed at high-level meeting in Thessaloniki
While a "rebalancing of the market" was "underway," it was "at a slower pace than originally anticipated," the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries wrote in its latest monthly oil market report.