Tokyo shares tread water after U.S.-China trade deal; machinery makers lag

TOKYO, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Japanese shares were little changed on Thursday after the United States and China signed an interim deal to defuse their 18-month long trade war, with factory automation machinery makers under pressure on soft industry data.

The Nikkei share average added 0.1% to 23,933.13, while the broader Topix eased 0.1% to 1,728.72.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Wednesday signed a deal that will roll back some tariffs and see China boost purchases of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over two years.

However, the deal does not address structural economic issues that led to the conflict, and does not fully eliminate most of the tariffs imposed by both sides, while the $200 billion purchase targets look daunting to achieve.

“Given the amount of speculation by the markets and commentary by officials ahead of Wednesday’s signing, it is unsurprising markets have not rallied too strongly upon final signing,” said Hannah Anderson, global markets strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management in Hong Kong.

Indeed, Tokyo-listed shares reacted more to domestic matters as investors looked past an initial trade deal between the world’s two largest economies.

Factory automation machinery makers came under pressure after the Japan Machine Tool Builders’ Association released flash orders data for December, which showed machine tool orders slumped 33.6% year-on-year last month.

Yaskawa Electric Corp shed 2.9%, SMC Corp dropped 2.2% and Makino Milling Machine fell 1.0%.

Toshiba Machine jumped 3.5% after the former subsidiary of Toshiba Corp said it would sell its 15.8% stake in NuFlare to its former parent, aiming to shrug off a higher counter offer by Hoya Corp. The tender by Toshiba Machine would allow Toshiba to secure more than two-thirds of NuFlare.

Toshiba dipped 0.9% and Hoya declined 1.1%.

Elsewhere, sports gear maker Asics Corp climbed 2.5% after British media reported that World Athletics may ban the use of Nike’s controversial running shoes with super-thick soles. (Reporting By Tomo Uetake; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shailesh Kuber)