January 23, 2019 / 6:49 AM / 4 months ago

Nikkei ends lower on trade worries but weak yen caps losses

    * BOJ keeps ultra-loose monetary policy
    * Subaru tumbles after co says it halted output at sole
factory in
Japan
    * Bridgestone falls after it says to buy Tomtom's Telematics
for
$1 bln
    * Dec exports fall more than expected

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei ended lower on
Wednesday as weaker-than-expected December exports and concerns
over U.S.-China relations added to worries about the outlook for
the trade-reliant economy, though a softer yen offset pressure
on exporters.
    The Nikkei share average         ended down 0.1 percent at
20,593.72, after flitting between negative and positive
territory.
    The broader Topix         underperformed and ended 0.6
percent lower at 1,547.03. Declining issues outweighed advancing
ones 1,586 to 469.
    As expected, the Bank of Japan trimmed its inflation
forecasts but maintained its ultra-loose monetary policy at the
end of a two-day meeting on Wednesday.             
    However, the trade dispute between the United States and
China was the key worry of the day.
    A report by the Financial Times that the United States had
rejected China's offer for preparatory trade talks rekindled
worries about their dispute, though White House economic adviser
Larry Kudlow later denied it.             
    Prior to the market open, Japan reported exports in December
fell the most in more than two years and by more than expected,
dragged by plummeting shipments to China and regional markets as
weak global demand and U.S.-Sino trade frictions take their toll
on the economy.             
    "Japan is in a difficult position because of its economic
reliance on the United States and China. Japan's cyclical stocks
depend on demand from the two counties," said Takatoshi
Itoshima, a strategist at Pictet Asset Management.
    Some exporters rebounded as the dollar rose 0.3 percent to
109.65 yen, recovering from 109.4 yen in early Asian trade.
Olympus Corp          and Daikin Industries          added 0.6
percent.
    Subaru Corp          stumbled nearly 7 percent at one point
after the automaker said its sole car factory in Japan had
halted output a week ago after it discovered a defect in a
component. The company later recovered some ground and ended 3.4
percent lower after it gave further details.              
    Bridgestone Corp          shed 1.7 percent after the tire
maker said it will buy TomTom's           fleet business
Telematics for $1 billion.             
    Japan Display Inc          jumped 19 percent after the Wall
Street Journal reported that the company is in investment talks
with Taiwan's TPK Holdings and Chinese state-owned Silk Road
Fund.             

 (Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
  
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