Tokyo stocks open lower on lingering rate hike fears

Pedestrians are reflected in the electronics stock indicator on the window of a security company in Tokyo on March 1, 2018.<br />Tokyo stocks opened lower on March 1, extending Wall Street’s falls on worries about higher interest rates, with a higher yen also weighing on the market. / AFP PHOTO / Toshifumi KITAMURA

Tokyo stocks opened lower on Thursday, extending Wall Street’s falls on worries about higher interest rates, with a higher yen also weighing on the market.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.87 percent, or 190.95 points to 21,877.29 in early trade while the broader Topix index was down 0.93 percent, or 16.43 points, at 1,751.81.

US stocks dropped for the second straight session, as investors continued to digest Tuesday’s congressional testimony by new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that sparked talk that the US central bank would accelerate the pace of interest rate hikes.

The dollar was trading at 106.61 yen in early Asian trade against 106.71 yen in New York and 107.06 yen in Tokyo on Wednesday.

In addition to fears over higher interest rates and a firm yen, huge portions of sales or purchases “by funds at the beginning of a new month may affect the market” Wednesday, Kyoko Amemiya, senior market advisor at SBI Securities, told AFP.

Exporters were down, with Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal falling 1.32 percent to 2,522 yen and Toyota down 1.04 percent at 7,160 yen.

Toyota’s smaller partner Subaru was down 1.21 percent at 3,234 yen after media reports said it would replace its president after an inspection scandal, though the company denied the report in a statement Thursday morning.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries dropped 3.31 percent to 3,790 yen after it said it had supplied nearly 150 faulty wheel parts to Japan’s iconic bullet trains, that could crack and potentially cause a derailment.

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