May 25, 2018 / 7:26 AM / 6 months ago

Nikkei ekes out gains but cautious as Trump cancels N.Korea summit

TOKYO, May 25 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei edged up on Friday, supported by such large cap stocks as Tokyo Electron and Fast Retailing, but gains were limited as sentiment was soured after U.S. President Donald Trump cancelled a summit with North Korea’s leader.

Defence-related stocks attracted buying, however, on speculation that geopolitical tensions would rise.

The Nikkei share average closed up 0.1 percent to 22,450.79. For the week, the index lost 2.1 percent, its first weekly decline in nine weeks.

The broader Topix dropped 0.2 percent to 1,771.70, with the Topix Core 30 falling 0.6 percent.

Large cap stocks were mixed. Tokyo Electron rose 1.7 percent, Fast Retailing gained 0.9 percent, while automakers continued to slide on fears of new U.S. tariffs.

Toyota Motor Corp dropped 1.3 percent and Subaru Corp declined 1.1 percent.

Weak oil prices weighed on resources stocks, with miner Inpex falling 2.8 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co tumbling 4.8 percent.

Meanwhile, defence equipment maker Ishikawa Seisakusho surged 5.5 percent, Howa Machinery jumped 3.2 percent, and health protection device maker Shigematsu Works rose 2 percent.

Trump, in a letter to North Korea released by the White House, called off the June 12 summit, citing “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a recent statement by Pyongyang. The cancellation came even after North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its nuclear test site.

“Investors see exporter shares are difficult to invest in now due to a strong yen, so they are shifting their money to defence-related stocks for now,” said Yoshinori Shigemi, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

“Investors’ risk stance came back earlier this week as trade war worries seemed to ease, but the relief was short-lived and investors seem risk averse again.”

North Korea responded on Friday with measured tones to Trump’s decision to call off a historic summit with leader Kim Jong Un scheduled for next month, saying Pyongyang hoped for a “Trump formula” to resolve the standoff over its nuclear weapons programme.

Defensive shares such as railway and food stocks, which are less affected by global risks, found support. East Japan Railway rose 1.1 percent, while Ajinomoto Co advanced 0.7 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the Topix by a 2.3-to-1 ratio. (Editing by Kim Coghill)

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