Tokyo stocks down 0.69% by break as 2015 trading starts


TOKYO, (AFP) – Tokyo stocks slipped 0.69 percent in the morning of the first trading day of the year following a weak batch of US data and as oil prices hit new multi-year lows.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which gained more than seven percent in 2014, fell 119.99 points to 17,330.78 by the break on Monday, while the Topix index of all first-section shares shed 0.72 percent, or 10.09 points, to sit at 1,397.42.

Oil prices slumped to five-and-a-half year lows on Friday on signs of weak manufacturing output in Europe, while the euro fell to a near nine-year low against the dollar after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted again at further stimulus.

Draghi said in an interview published in the German business daily Handelsblatt last week that deflation remains a threat and that the ECB needs to be prepared to counter it.

In Monday forex trade, the euro briefly sank to $1.1865, the lowest since March 2006, before recovering to $1.1963, against $1.2002 in New York Friday afternoon.

The dollar slipped to 120.39 yen from 120.46 yen in New York.

Wall Street finished little changed Friday following lacklustre US economic data and with many market participants still on holiday.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Friday the manufacturing sector slowed for the second straight month in December, partly due to falling crude prices and a labour slowdown at West Coast ports.

“Over the holiday break, foreign markets had some risk-off movements, so we re just seeing that being reflected today,” Isao Kubo, a Tokyo-based equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management Corp., told Bloomberg News.

“If markets can safely navigate this week s Federal Reserve (meeting) minutes and US non-farm payrolls, after that we can expect stocks to begin trading on fundamentals such as company earnings.”

Markets are looking for hints of any change in the Fed s timeline for raising interest rates in mid-2015.

In Tokyo share trading, Uniqlo clothing chain operator Fast Retailing slipped 0.95 percent to 43,620.0 yen, mobile carrier SoftBank was down 0.68 percent at 7,161.0 yen and Toyota fell 1.23 percent to 7,465.0 yen



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