March 31, 2017 / 6:43 AM / a year ago

Nikkei drops to over 7-wk closing low as investors lock in gains

TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks dropped to more than seven-week closing lows on Friday in choppy trade as investors locked in gains on the last trading day of the fiscal year, led by selling in futures and bellwether stocks such as exporters.

The Nikkei share average fell 0.8 percent to 18,909.26, the lowest close since Feb. 9. The benchmark index declined 1.8 percent for the week and 1.1 percent for the month. For the quarter, it dropped 1.1 percent.

Much of the demand for Japanese stocks has been influenced by the yen’s moves and broad sentiment around U.S. President Donald Trump’s early efforts to change domestic policies.

Trump’s failure to push through a healthcare bill triggered sharp selling in Japanese equities on Monday as investors fretted about his ability to push through economic stimulus measures.

As the dollar-yen levels have been volatile recently, investors will remain cautious for a while, traders say.

All sectors but the utility were in negative territory. Exporters lost ground, with Toyota Motor Corp falling 1.1 percent and Honda Motor Co dropping 1.3 percent.

The broader Topix shed 1.0 percent to 1,512.60, with 2.2 billion shares changing hands, the biggest since March 10. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dropped 0.9 percent to 13,522.45.

Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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