June 3, 2019 / 7:09 AM / 4 months ago

Nikkei tumbles on global slowdown worries; SoftBank Group, exporters weigh

* SoftBank Group dives after report co faces challenges raising latest fund

* Exporters, mining stocks weak

* Cocokara Fine soars on merger talks with Sugi

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, June 3 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks hit the skids on Monday as investors fretted about the rising risks to global and domestic growth from a potentially protracted and widening tariff war between the United States and its major trading partners.

Index-heavy SoftBank Group Corp tumbled 6.2% after the Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s bid to raise a second mega fund has met with a chilly reception from some of the world’s biggest money managers.

The Nikkei share average ended 0.9% lower at 20,410.88, the weakest closing level since Feb. 9. In intraday trade, it slumped 1.4% to hit a 4-1/2 month low of 20,305.74.

Modest gains for the yen also battered exporters already under pressure from global trade frictions. The dollar dropped 0.1% at 108.19 yen, after hitting as low as 108.10 during Asian trade, its lowest since Jan. 14.

Shares of Fanuc Corp tumbled 3.3%, Yaskawa Electric declined 1.8%, Tokyo Electron shed 2.1% and Komatsu Ltd fell 1.8%.

A senior Chinese official said on Sunday that the United States cannot use pressure to force a trade deal on China, refusing to be drawn on whether the leaders of the two countries would meet at the G20 summit to bash out an agreement.

China threatened on Friday to unveil an unprecedented hit-list of “unreliable” foreign firms, groups and individuals that harm the interests of Chinese companies, as a slate of retaliatory tariffs on imported U.S. goods.

“Investors’ main concern is that the trade war may hurt global growth,” said Toru Ibayashi, executive director of wealth management at UBS Securities, Japan, adding that the Nikkei could fall further.

On Monday, a private business survey showed that China’s factory activity expanded at a steady but modest pace in May, though front-loading of shipments to avoid higher U.S. tariffs masked underlying weakness in the world’s second-biggest economy. A run of recent indicators also showed China’s growth engine decelerating.

“The U.S. manufacturing growth is also slowing. Moreover, we may not be able to avoid a negative impact to the Japanese auto industry from U.S.-Mexico issues,” Ibayashi said.

U.S. President Donald Trump, incensed by a surge of illegal immigrants across the southern border, vowed on Thursday to impose a tariff on all goods coming from Mexico, starting at 5% and ratcheting higher until the flow of people ceases.

Mining stocks also lost ground, after oil prices on Monday extended losses of over 5% from Friday. Inpex Corp stumbled 1.9%, while Japan Petroleum Exploration Co tanked 3.7%.

The broader Topix dropped 0.9% to 1,498.96.

Buying in defensive stocks reflected investors’ risk-averse stance. Utility and real estate shares outperformed, with both Tokyo Electric Power and Mitsubishi Estate rising 2.3%.

Drugstore operator Cocokara Fine jumped 16.6% to a daily limit high of 4,905 yen after the company said it is discussing a merger with Sugi Holdings.

Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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