Tokyo shares close lower ahead of earnings

TOKYO (AFP/APP): Tokyo shares closed lower on Friday, weighed down by US futures losses, as investors await a corporate earnings season that kicks off next week.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.90 percent or 250.67 points to end at 27,522.26, while the broader Topix index shed 0.59 percent or 11.35 points to 1,927.18.
“The Nikkei index opened lower following falls in the three major US indexes. Also, chip-related shares (in Japan) were sold” after the Philadelphia semiconductor index tumbled, Okasan Online Securities said.
The Nikkei index dropped more than two percent in early trade, but it later “trimmed losses on bargain-hunting”, the brokerage added.
Mizuho Securities said the market was weighed down by losses of US futures.
The dollar changed hands at 113.80 yen in Asian trade, down from 114.18 yen in New York on Thursday.
Before the opening bell, the Japanese government released data showing that core consumer prices edged up year on year in December for the fourth month running, buoyed partly by higher energy prices.
Chip-making equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electron plunged 6.19 percent to 57,510 yen and chip-testing equipment maker Advantest dropped 3.98 percent to 9,650 yen.
Toyota tumbled 2.47 percent to 2,284.5 yen after the company announced Thursday it would halt up to 11 domestic plants for three business days due to Covid cases among workers.
Nissan lost 0.95 percent to 612.2 yen but Honda advanced 0.49 percent to 3,437 yen.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group fell 0.72 percent to 5,487 yen while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing slid 0.36 percent to 67,390 yen.
Sony was down 1.37 percent at 12,955 yen.
Japan prices rise for fourth month
Japan’s core consumer prices edged up year-on-year in December for the fourth month running, buoyed partly by higher energy prices, government data showed Friday.
The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile fresh food prices but includes fuel costs, was up 0.5 percent in December, following similar rises from September to November.
The advance follows 18 months of declines or stagnation during the depths of the pandemic, but fell slightly short of economist expectations for a 0.6 percent rise.
And excluding fuel costs, prices were down 0.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the figures from the internal affairs ministry.
For the whole of 2021, consumer prices were down 0.2 percent.
While many countries are battling higher inflation, Tokyo is still struggling to even approach the long-held two percent target, seen as key to turbo-charging the world’s third-largest economy.
This week, Japan’s central bank revised its inflation forecast, citing a rise in commodity prices and the resulting impact on consumer prices.
It also declared the risks to prices “generally balanced,” compared to its previous assessment that they were “skewed to the downside.”
“It’s clear that price pressures in Japan remain much weaker than elsewhere,” Capital Economics’ senior Japan economist Marcel Thieliant said in a note.
“We expect underlying inflation to peak at around 1 percent towards the end of this year.”