June 1, 2018 / 6:49 AM / 2 months ago

Nikkei edges lower in choppy trade on large cap selling, U.S. trade jitters

TOKYO, June 1 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average ended lower on Friday, as selling in large cap stocks and concerns about U.S. tariffs on metal imports erased earlier gains made after a weaker yen supported exporter firms.

The Nikkei fell 0.1 percent to 22,171.35, swinging into negative territory after a rise earlier in the session. For the week, it dropped 1.2 percent.

Fast Retailing declined 1.7 percent and contributed a hefty 30 points to the Nikkei, while Kao Corp dropped 3.0 percent and added 9.3 negative points to the index.

The broader Topix added 0.1 percent to 1,749.17.

On Thursday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent levy on aluminium imports from allies Canada, Mexico and the European Union would go into effect on Friday.

Analysts said that the direct impact from renewed worries over global trade war on Japanese stocks remains limited for now.

“Trump’s move had been expected so markets in Japan are not reacting to it. That said, investors are remaining cautious as they try to get more clues on trade matters next week,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

Earlier in the day, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Thursday called for “rational” debate among G7 nations to prevent protectionist trade measures from disrupting the global economy.

Investors are also focused on the outcome of trade talks when U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet on June 7 at the White House.

Exporters gained ground after the dollar was up 0.3 percent to 109.14. Toyota Motor Corp rose 2.9 percent and Mazda Motor Corp surged 1.2 percent.

Banking shares also staged a rally, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group surging 1.6 percent and Mizuho Financial Group rising 0.7 percent.

Olympus Corp soared 4.0 percent after U.S. hedge fund ValueAct Capital became a major shareholder in the Japanese medical equipment and camera maker with a 5.04 percent stake that is worth around $612 million at current shares prices.

Editing by Sam Holmes

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