TOKYO, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks ended lower on Wednesday as an approaching deadline for U.S. tariffs on nearly $160 billion worth of Chinese consumer goods just weeks before Christmas kept investors away from risk-taking.
The Nikkei index closed down 0.08% at 23,391.86, with industrial and healthcare sectors leading the declines.
The tariffs are set to kick in on Dec. 15, but the United States and China are planning a delay as trade talks continue, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
However, some traders were cautious as negotiations between the two countries have been fractious and both sides have sent mixed signals about the chance of agreeing to a deal to end a trade row that has dragged on for more than a year.
“I lean toward the positive side in terms of valuations for Japanese equities, which look cheap,” said Masayuki Kichikawa, chief macro strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co in Tokyo.
“Having said that, foreign investors need to be convinced that downside risks posed by global trade have receded before they return to the Japanese stock market.”
Investors also avoided making big bets ahead of the outcome of a rate-setting meeting by the U.S. Federal Reserve later in the day and a general election in the UK on Thursday, which could cause gyrations in financial markets.
There were 98 advancers on the Nikkei index against 120 decliners.
The largest percentage losers were electronic equipment maker Hitachi Ltd down 2.53%, followed by a 2.48% drop in sake rice wine brewer Takara Holdings Inc and 2.35% slide in drugs maker Eisai Co Ltd.
The largest percentage gainers were silicon wafer manufacturer Sumco Corp up 4.16%, followed by marine food products firm Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd gaining 3.44% and industrial equipment maker Hitachi Zosen Corp up 2.95%.
The broader Topix index fell 0.34% to 1,714.95.
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 1.15 billion, compared to the average of 1.25 billion in the past 30 days. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Arun Koyyur)