Nikkei extends losses after Abe says US-Japan trade pact still not finalised

Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:23am EDT

TOKYO, April 24 (Reuters) - Tokyo stocks slipped to one-week
lows on Thursday, extending losses into the afternoon session as
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that a trade pact with
the United States hasn't  been finalised yet. 
   Abe's comments came after a meeting with U.S. President
Barack Obama who is on a state visit to Japan.
   Some investors had been hoping that a two-way trade deal,
seen as crucial to a broader trans-Pacific agreement, could be
reached at the meeting. 
    The Nikkei share average fell 1.2 percent to
14,367.13 at one point, its lowest level since Thursday last
week. 
    A U.S.-Japan trade deal could benefit Japan's major
exporters such as car makers in the medium-term. Abe has touted
the broader trade deal as vital for growth in the world's
third-biggest economy, but faces tough domestic opposition to
opening up agricultural market. 
    Mollifying Japan's powerful farmers' lobby and completing a
successful trade pact is seen as a key test on whether Abe can
deliver the third arrow, or structural reform, to go with two
others that's already been deployed -- fiscal and monetary
stimulus measures.
    The Nikkei was also under pressure ahead of the looming
earnings season and lingering worries over the economic impact
of a sales tax hike that kicked in this month.
    The broader Topix index fell 0.9 percent.

 (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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