October 30, 2019 / 2:30 AM / 14 days ago

Japan stocks retreat from strong run as trade doubts creep in

TOKYO, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index pulled back from the highest in more than a year on Wednesday as conflicting signals from the U.S. government dampened optimism for a preliminary trade agreement with China.

At 0147 GMT the Nikkei index was up 0.33% at 22,898.42, on course for its biggest decline in three weeks.

It was the first downturn for Japanese stocks in eight trading sessions, after a U.S. administration official told Reuters on Tuesday that an interim U.S.-China trade agreement might not be completed in time for signing at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile on Nov. 16-17.

A delay does not mean the accord is falling apart, the official said. However, the remarks conflicted with U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments on Monday that he expected to sign a significant part of the trade deal with China ahead of schedule.

Trump’s comments had lifted global stock markets and sent the Nikkei to the highest in more than a year on Tuesday.

Investors also avoided taking big long positions before a U.S. Federal Reserve policy decision later on Wednesday and a Bank of Japan meeting on Thursday.

There were 148 decliners on the Nikkei index against 73 advancers on Wednesday.

The largest percentage losses in the index were electronics manufacturer NEC Corp, down 5.51%, followed by rival electronics manufacturer Omron Corp losing 4.28% and Nippon Electric Glass Co Ltd down 4.19%.

On the winning ledger, packaged food maker Nisshin Seifun Group Inc jumped 7.06%, electronics conglomerate Fujitsu Ltd rallied 5.63% and cosmetics maker Shiseido Co Ltd up by 3.22%.

The broader Topix index added 0.04% to 1,663.36. It earlier reached its highest level since Dec. 4, 2018.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.52 billion, compared to the average of 1.24 billion in the past 30 days. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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