August 6, 2018 / 6:41 AM / 4 months ago

Nikkei edges lower in choppy session amid trade tensions, corp earnings

* Construction sector 2nd worst performer as earnings disappoints

* Market cautious before Japan-U.S. bilateral talks this week

* NTT Data soars after April-June profits cheer market

* Foster Electric dives after expecting a net loss this FY

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average edged lower in choppy trade on Monday as investors remained cautious amid a raft of corporate earnings and this week’s trade talks between Washington and Tokyo.

Contractors lost ground, after Taisei Corp tumbled 12 percent and soured sentiment in the sector after its April-June net profit dropped 34.4 percent on the year to 12.96 billion yen. The construction sector fell 2.4 percent and was the second worst performer on the board.

Kajima Corp declined 4.3 percent, Shimizu Corp slipped 4.4 percent and Obayashi Corp tumbled 4.9 percent.

The Nikkei ended 0.1 percent lower at 22,507.32 after swinging between positive and negative territory throughout the day.

The overall mood in financial markets was cautious as Chinese shares stumbled after Beijing’s latest tariff threats escalated the tit-for-tat Sino-U.S. trade war.

The People’s Bank of China late on Friday raised the reserve requirement on foreign exchange forward positions, making it more expensive to bet against the Chinese currency.

Analysts said that the Japanese stock market is likely to move in a narrow range this week as investors are expected to stay on the sidelines amid global trade tensions.

“Investors are cautious ahead of Japan-U.S. bilateral talks this week. There is a possibility that the yen will rise on sensitive trade talks,” said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.

Tokyo is seeking ways to counter U.S. pressure for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) and head off a rise in tariffs on its auto exports when Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi meets U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington on Aug. 9.

Many investors were also focused on earnings releases, with NTT Data jumping 7.5 percent after its April-June profits cheered the market. The company’s net profit rose 23 percent to 20.81 billion yen thanks to strong public infrastructure business in the domestic market.

Foster Electric dived 23 percent after it said it expects a net loss of 2.5 billion yen for the year ending March 2019 due to falling demand for headsets from its main customers, compared to its previous guidance of a net profit of 2.5 billion yen.

On the positive side, Isuzu Motors jumped 3.6 percent on news the automaker would buy back up to 6.34 percent of the stock for as much as 80 billion yen, after it and Toyota Motor said they would dissolve their capital ties.

The broader Topix dropped 0.6 percent to 1,732.90. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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