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TOKYO: Japan’s Nikkei share average sank to a nearly three-week low on Monday as a stronger yen dented the earnings outlook for the nation’s exporters, with automakers leading declines.

The Nikkei closed down 0.6% at 33,231.27 after earlier sliding as much as 1.22% to reach 33,023.04 for the first time since Nov. 14.

The broader Topix slumped 0.83%. Transport equipment was the worst performer among the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry groups, declining 2.48%. Mining was next with a 2.39% slide as a big drop in crude prices took a toll on the oil explorers.

The yen pushed to a nearly three-month high of 146.235 per dollar on Monday before easing back to around 146.65.

“There’s a strong impression that stocks are being pulled around by moves in currency markets,” said Kazuo Kamitani, a strategist at Nomura Securities.

At the same time, “I think it would be quite difficult for yen strength to reach 144 or 143 per dollar, and this may instead be a near-term peak,” he added.

With the Nikkei’s 25-day moving average pointing strongly upward, “if there is some positive driver, it wouldn’t be strange for the Nikkei at any moment to push toward 34,000,” Kamitani said.

The Nikkei reached a 33-year peak on Nov. 20 at 33,853.46. On Monday, 170 of the index’s 225 components fell, versus 54 that rose and one that was flat.

Nikkei index closes lower

Mazda was the worst-performing stock, dropping 3.93%. Heavyweight peers were also hit hard, with Nissan sinking 3.27% and Toyota losing 2.31%.

The biggest drag, though, was chip-making equipment giant Tokyo Electron with a 0.59% decline. Startup investor SoftBank Group was next, dipping 1.15%. At the other end, shipping was far and away the best performing TSE industry group, climbing 1.95%.

Real estate was the only other industry with a notable gain, advancing 0.45%.

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