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Tokyo stocks open the year 2024 with a diverse performance as the yen weakens in response to earthquake fears

Tokyo stocks open the year 2024 with a diverse performance as the yen weakens in response to earthquake fears

Tokyo (KYODO NEWS) – Tokyo stocks were mixed Thursday, the first trading day of 2024, as exporters received a boost from the yen’s weakness following a major earthquake in central Japan while technology shares were sold, tracking their U.S. counterparts.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 175.88 points, or 0.53 percent, from Friday at 33,288.29. The broader Topix index finished up 12.40 points, or 0.52 percent, at 2,378.79.

Japanese financial markets were closed from Monday to Wednesday due to the New Year holidays.

On the top-tier Prime Market, gainers were led by marine transportation and oil and coal product issues. Top decliners were electric appliance and precision instrument issues.

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The U.S. dollar briefly strengthened to the upper 143 yen range in Tokyo, as the yen was sold on a view that the powerful earthquake that shook the Noto Peninsula and surrounding areas in central Japan Monday has reduced the likelihood of the Bank of Japan shifting from its ultraloose monetary policy at its January meeting, some analysts said.

At 5 p.m., the U.S. dollar fetched 143.37-39 yen compared with 143.25-35 yen in New York at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The euro was quoted at $1.0937-0938 and 156.81-85 yen against $1.0918-0928 and 156.41-51 yen in New York late Wednesday afternoon.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond ended at 0.615 percent, the same level as its previous close on Friday.

The debt was sold on reduced expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve could soon bring down interest rates after the minutes of its December policy meeting offered few indications when cuts could start, while buying came on views that the BOJ will not move from its current monetary policy in January.

Tokyo stocks recovered in the afternoon after the Nikkei benchmark index started trading by falling over two percent when participants sold technology stocks after their U.S. counterparts fell on the back of rising interest rates.

Related News : An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 rocked a wide area on the Sea of Japan coast Monday, killing at least four people and triggering tsunami and fires in the central prefecture of Ishikawa, and dampening the festive mood of New Year celebrations nationwide.

Concern over the effects of the powerful earthquake also weighed, but the index trimmed losses as investors bought on the dip and snapped up exporter-related shares on the yen’s weakness.

“Investors were reassured by U.S. futures rising after the Nikkei fell dramatically, with the yen’s weakness helping to push buybacks on automaker and machine manufacturers,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co.

Among technology stocks, semiconductor testing equipment maker Advantest was down 182 yen, or 3.8 percent, to 4,615 yen, while Tokyo Electron fell 1,250 yen, or 4.9 percent, to 24,005 yen.

Major exporter automaker Toyota Motor advanced 44.5 yen, or 1.7 percent, to 2,635.0 yen, while Honda Motor was up 31.0 yen, or 2.1 percent, to 1,497.0 yen, as the yen’s weakness raised prospects of higher profits when repatriating overseas earnings.

Elsewhere, Japan Airlines ended the day up 21.5 yen, or 0.8 percent, to 2,796.5 yen, its first day of trading after one of its planes caught fire in a collision with a Japan Coast Guard aircraft on the runway of Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday.

Analysts said the firm drew buying despite initial heavy selling as investors were reassured by the airline’s safety procedures, which ensured all passengers and crew survived the accident.

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