May 31, 2019 / 2:44 AM / 5 months ago

Nikkei tumbles to 3-month low as carmakers plunge on Trump's Mexico tariff

* Auto sector second worst performer on the board

* Japan Display soars on news it will get financial aid

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, May 31 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei tumbled to a more than three-month low, led by a plunge in carmakers after U.S. President Donald Trump said the United States would impose a new tariff on all imports from Mexico next month until illegal immigration is stopped.

The Nikkei share average fell 0.7% to 20,795.63 in midmorning trade, after sinking to as low as 20,672.29 earlier in the session, the lowest since mid-February.

The transport equipment sector tumbled 2.4% and was the second worst sectoral performer on the board. Mazda Motor Corp dived 6.4%, Toyota Motor Co shed 2.3%, Nissan Motor Co plunged 3.1% and Honda Motor Co declined 3.2%.

Trump said on Thursday the U.S. will impose a 5% tariff on all goods coming from Mexico starting on June 10 until illegal immigration across the southern border is stopped.

“The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied, at which time the Tariffs will be removed,” Trump said on Twitter.

In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said the tariff would increase to 10% on July 1, 15% on Aug. 1, 20% on Sept. 1 and to 25% on Oct. 1.

“It doesn’t look like there are prospects of resolving the immigration issue by the deadline. Although the specific impact on the Japanese auto industry is unclear at this point, investors are growing increasingly worried about a negative effect on auto sales,” said Yoshinori Shigemi, a global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

“The immigration issue itself is contained between the U.S. and Mexico, but Trump’s latest move reminded investors about his hardline stance on trade issues so the market is cautious about a trade deal between the U.S. and Japan as well.”

Trump had indicated during his Japan trip this week that there will be trade announcements between the two sides “probably in August,” and that the trade gap between the two countries could be “straightened out rapidly.”

Bucking the weak trend, Japan Display Inc jumped as much as 36% after news it secured a financial aid from a Chinese-Taiwanese consortium in June.

Ono Pharmaceutical soared 3.9% after the company said it will buy back up to 2.92% of its own shares, worth up to 30 billion yen.

The broader Topix index was weaker with all but two of its 33 subsectors in the red. (Editing by Sam Holmes)

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