Tokyo stocks open slightly higher, trade war in focus

A man walks past a stock market indicator board in Tokyo on May 16, 2018. Japan’s economy slid into reverse for the first time in two years at the beginning of the year, hit by sluggish consumption and a winter cold snap, but on May 16 analysts predicted the world’s third-largest economy would quickly rebound. / AFP PHOTO / Martin BUREAU

Tokyo stocks inched higher on Wednesday with investors weighing gains in New York against fresh worries over US-China trade frictions.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 0.04 percent or 9.07 points to 22,671.81 in early trade while the Topix index gained 0.11 percent or 1.94 points at 1,747.99.

“Buying is likely to lead in early trade following gains in US and European markets,” SBI Securities said in a commentary.

“But after that, a wait-and-see mood could spread as investors want to see how the Shanghai Composite Index will fare” after the latest tariff announcement from Washington, it said in a commentary.

Global stock prices rose on Tuesday on the back of solid second-quarter US corporate earnings.

But the US Trade Representative announced Tuesday the first round of President Donald Trump’s 25-percent punitive tariffs on China would hit $50 billion in goods starting August 23.

Although the move was expected, it cements the view that there appears to be little effort underway to defuse the dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

Tokyo investors will also be increasingly cautious ahead of US-Japan trade talks in Washington on Thursday, Okasan Online Securities said.

Panasonic, which supplies batteries to Tesla, rose 0.17 percent to 1,453 yen after Tesla chief Elon Musk hinted at taking the electric car maker private.

SoftBank Group, an active investor in the IT sector, rallied 2.99 percent to 10,345 yen after gains in technology shares on Wall Street.

The dollar was trading at 111.34 yen against 111.37 yen in New York on Tuesday afternoon.

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