March 22, 2017 / 2:42 AM / a year ago

Nikkei withers, whipped by strong yen and Wall Street losses

* Shares further undermined by report of N. Korean missile launch

* U.S. stocks wilt on fears of delays to tax reform, fiscal steps

* Safe-haven yen surges to strongest levels since November

TOKYO, March 22 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average skidded on Wednesday, taking its cue from a sell-off on Wall Street and a rise in the perceived safe-haven yen.

Japanese shares extended losses after Kyodo News, citing a Japan government source, reported that North Korea may have launched several missiles on Wednesday morning.

The Nikkei was down 2 percent at 19,065.37 at the end of morning trade, plumbing its lowest intraday levels since late February.

“Tokyo market shows weakness overall, owing largely to recent U.S. stock price declines and relative yen strength,” said Hiroki Allen, chief representative of Superfund Japan in Tokyo.

The U.S. dollar wallowed below the 112-yen level in troughs not seen since November, after Wall Street tumbled on Tuesday as investors’ fears grew that President Donald Trump might have trouble delivering his promised tax cuts that helped propel U.S. shares to record highs in recent months.

“People are now questioning the rollout for the Trump growth package, and part of that is because we’re assuming there’s going to be a delay in the tax reform measures,” said Gavin Parry, managing director of Parry International Trading in Hong Kong.

“The next catalyst people were looking for, for cash equities, was the reform measures to come out on the fiscal side,” he said. “Now that’s all been put on the back burner, and internationally, it’s making people re-weight their expectations.”

Markets largely shrugged off Japanese economic data earlier in the session showing exports in February grew 11.3 percent from a year earlier, led by shipments of car parts and electronics parts to Asia, taking the seasonally-adjusted trade surplus to its highest since April 2010.

Banking and securities shares took a significant hit on the market downturn, with the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s bank subindex shedding 3.1 percent and the securities subindex dropping 3.4 percent.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) shares fell 0.5 percent. The utility will announce the main points of a revised business restructuring plan on Wednesday, Japanese media reported, as it looks to speed reforms and boost earnings to meet the costs of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The broader Topix slipped 1.9 percent to 1,533.90, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 was down 2 percent at 13,712.86. (Reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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