TOKYO: Tokyo stocks opened lower Thursday as investors locked in profits after recent gains while awaiting a Bank of Japan policy decision later in the day.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.04 percent, or 11.38 points, to 27,668.88 in early trade, while the broader Topix index fell 0.25 percent, or 4.47 points, to 1,941.97.
One dollar bought 138.40 yen, up slightly from 138.26 yen on Wednesday in New York.
“The Nikkei average gained more than 1,300 yen over the five straight winning sessions. Naturally, profit-taking is expected,” Okasan Online Securities said.
But at the same time, investors were relieved by the solid overnight performance of US tech and defence-related shares, and the market is showing a healthy appetite for bargain-hunting, the brokerage added.
Investors are watching the BoJ, which is widely expected to maintain its ultra-loose monetary policy while its global peers including the US Federal Reserve hike rates to fight inflation.
The European Central Bank is also expected later Thursday to announce its first rate increase in more than a decade.
These diverging policies have pushed down the yen, and the central bank “is expected to reiterate that they are watching the currency closely with big sudden (depreciating) moves seen as undesirable from a financial stability point of view,” said Rodrigo Catril of National Australia Bank.
“But a weaker currency per se is still regarded as net beneficial for the economy and for the Bank’s quest to lift inflation back towards two percent on a sustained basis,” he added.
Before trading began, the finance ministry said Japan’s trade deficit expanded to a record high of 7.9 trillion yen ($57 billion) in the first half of the year, driven by rising fuel costs.
Among major shares, Nippon Steel fell 3.78 percent to 1,959 yen. Advantest, the world’s top producer of testing kits for semiconductors, fell 1.32 percent to 7,460 yen, and Sony Group fell 0.96 percent to 11,825 yen.
Nissan lost 0.86 percent to 520 yen. Toyota was nominally up 0.02 percent to 2,194.5 yen.
Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing added 0.64 percent to 80,060 yen, while electronic parts maker Kyocera also rose 0.44 percent to 7,372 yen. But chip maker Murata Manufacturing fell 0.60 percent to 7,810 yen.