August 3, 2018 / 2:44 AM / 2 months ago

Japanese shares little moved on trade war jitters, Suzuki jumps

* Nikkei up but broader Topix down

* Suzuki Motor gains, Kubota slumps after earnings

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Japanese shares were little moved on Friday as Sino-U.S. trade tensions and upcoming trade talks between Washington and Tokyo kept investors on guard.

Bucking the cautious mood, however, was Suzuki Motor , which rose as much as 12.9 percent to record highs after the automaker posted record profits for April-June quarter, beating analysts’ estimates.

That, along with gains in some heavyweights in the Nikkei index, boosted the Nikkei into the positive territory although the broader Topix index was in the red, with decliners outnumbering gainers by almost 3 to 1.

Nikkei share average was up 0.21 percent at 22,559.25 while the Topix fell 0.22 percent to 1,748.16. On the week, the both indexes are on course to post their first weekly losses in four weeks.

Threats from the Trump administration to raise the planned tariffs in $200 billion imports from China to 25 percent from earlier proposal of 10 percent have dampened the market mood.

Investors are also getting nervous as Japan is due to start bilateral talks with the United States next week.

“Foreign investors have sold Japanese shares in August for the past eight years. And as Japan will start trade talks with the U.S. later this month, we could expect pressure while there are also worries about tariffs the U.S. threatens to impose on China,” said Masahiro Ayukai, senior strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

“We should expect more selling from investors, perhaps later this month,” he added.

Concerns about trade wars offset a lift from generally positive Japanese corporate earnings on the back of the current strength of the global economy.

Later in the day, Toyota Motor will announce its earnings.

On the other hand, Kubota, which manufactures tractors and heavy equipments, fell as much as 10.2 percent after it cut its annual net profit guidance by 4 percent on rising raw material costs.

Large caps shares continued their outperformance against their smaller peers since last month.

The Topix core 30 rose 0.2 percent while Topix Small fell 0.71 percent.

Editing by Sam Holmes

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