May 15, 2019 / 3:08 AM / 2 months ago

Nikkei hobbled by trade worries, disappointing earnings

* Nikkei down slightly after 7 losing sessions

* Uncertainties over U.S.-China standoff keep investors on edge

* Takeda Pharma, Nissan sink after earnings shock

* Mitsubishi Estate jumps on share buyback, governance reform

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, May 15 (Reuters) - Japanese share prices were capped on Wednesday by concerns about the broader economic impact of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, while an array of disappointing corporate earnings added to the downcast mood.

The Nikkei share average was off 0.08% at 21,051, after spending much of the session under water, even after seven straight days of losses until Tuesday.

The broader Topix, which hit a four-month low the previous day, was down 0.03% at 1534.51.

Trade-sensitive stocks came under pressure, even though global shares have somewhat stabilised after U.S. President Donald Trump made optimistic comments on trade talks with China.

Trump insisted trade discussions with China had not collapsed, denying talks with Beijing had broken down after Washington punctuated two days of negotiations last week with another round of tariffs on Chinese imports.

“Although we saw some recovery in share prices after Trump’s comments, there are heightened uncertainties over trade, which are negative for stocks,” said Shusuke Yamada, chief Japan FX and equity strategist at Bank Of America Merrill Lynch.

Steelmakers fell 2.4% while shippers dropped 0.9%.

Not helping sentiment was Japanese corporate earnings, with net profits falling almost 5.0% from a year earlier in January-March, according to Okasan Securities.

Takeda Pharmaceutical fell as much as 8.6%. Japan’s biggest drugmaker forecast an unexpected operating loss for the current year due to costs associated with the $59 billion purchase of Shire Plc.

That helped to bring down Tokyo Stock Exchange’s drugmaker subindex 3.1%, making it the worst performer.

Nissan Motor slumped as much as to 8.0% to its lowest levels since late December 2012, after the carmaker forecast the weakest profit outlook in more than a decade.

“The earnings results suggested that the company is in much worse shape than I have imagined,” said Hiroshi Masushima, market analyst at Monex Securities.

The carmaker, hit by former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s arrest last year and troubles at its North American business, also said its dividend will be cut about 30% in another blow to investors as its hefty payouts have been the only major attraction.

H2O Retailing fell as much as 12.7% to seven-year lows as the mid-tier department store operator posted weak earnings and guidance.

On the upside, Mitsubishi Estate jumped as much as 11.2% after the real estate developer announced its first share buyback and a plan to abolish anti-takeover steps.

Decliners slightly outnumbered advancers by 1065 to 992. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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