April 4, 2018 / 2:07 AM / a year ago

Nikkei down in choppy trade; automakers gain after strong US sales

TOKYO, April 4 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks edged lower on Wednesday morning in choppy trade as the stronger yen soured sentiment, offsetting gains in some automakers after their strong U.S. sales numbers.

The Nikkei dropped 0.2 percent to 21,258.02 in midmorning trade, after trading in positive territory earlier.

The dollar eased against the yen, with the outlook clouded by worries that escalating U.S.-China trade tensions could take a toll on the global economy.

Tech shares continued to struggle, with Tokyo Electron dropping 2.2 percent, Advantest Corp falling 1.4 percent and TDK Corp shedding 1.5 percent.

Major automakers on Tuesday reported higher new vehicles sales for March on the back of a strong U.S. economy and big consumer discounts.

Honda Motor Co rose 1.1 percent after it said its March sales rose 3.8 percent, thanks largely to SUV and pickup truck sales.

Mazda Motor Corp gained 1.3 percent, Mitsubishi Motors Corp climbed 1.7 percent and Subaru Corp jumped 1.9 percent after marking respective increases of 35.7 percent, 21.7 percent and 5.9 percent.

The broader Topix declined 0.1 percent to 1,701.89.

Reporting by Ayai Tomisawa Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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