Tokyo stocks open lower after Fed rate signals

Madiha Shakeel December 20, 2018

Tokyo: Tokyo stocks opened lower Thursday, tracking falls on Wall Street as investors were disappointed at the US Federal Reserve’s cues on additional rate hikes next year, while SoftBank’s mobile phone unit fell sharply for the second day.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 0.90 percent, or 188.22 points, at 20,799.70 in early trade while the broader Topix index was down 0.68 percent, or 10.52 points, at 1,545.63.

Wall Street shares slumped after the Fed lifted interest rates as expected, even as the central bank signalled it expects slower rate increases next year.

Ray Attrill, strategist at National Australia Bank, said the post-Fed meeting sentiment was “a bit surprising” given the bank stressed a “gradual” pace of rate hikes next year.

“The expectation here was that all reference to ‘gradual’ could be dropped,” he said.

Investors were also awaiting the Bank of Japan’s policy board decision later Thursday, even the bank was not expected to change its monetary policy, analysts said.

The dollar fetched 112.51 yen in early Asian trade, against 112.49 yen in New York.

Shares in the mobile phone unit of Japanese technology giant SoftBank dropped 7.6 percent at the open. Trading was suspended for a few minutes after the opening bell because sell orders overwhelmed buy orders.

The steep fall came after a bruising debut for SoftBank Corp on Wednesday, which saw shares finishing 14.5 percent lower than the IPO price.

The shares bounced slightly off the lows but were still trading down 3.5 percent about 40 minutes after the market open.

Elsewhere, Taisho Pharmaceutical rose 0.84 percent to 11,940 yen after news that it will acquire US-based Bristol-Myers’ French unit UPSA for $1.6 billion.

Banks were among the losers, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial trading down 0.73 percent at 564.1 yen and its rival Sumitomo Mitsui Financial down 0.59 percent at 8,328 yen.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended down 1.5 percent at 23,323.66.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2018

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