December 11, 2019 / 2:42 AM / 2 months ago

Japanese shares dip as investors await clarity on U.S. tariffs

TOKYO, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks edged 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 risk-averse.

The Nikkei index fell 0.26% to 23,350.20 by 0138 GMT, 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.

Some investors also avoided taking big positions ahead of the outcome of a rate-setting meeting by the U.S. Federal Reserve later in the day and a British general election the following day, which could cause gyrations in financial markets.

There were 63 advancers on the Nikkei index against 156 decliners.

The largest percentage losers included container shipper Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd down 2.7%, followed by Taiheiyo Cement Corp losing 2.18% and drugmaker Eisai Co Ltd down 2.12%.

The largest percentage gainers included industrial machinery maker Hitachi Zosen Corp up 3.18%, followed by silicon maker Sumco Corp gaining 2.7% and marine food producer Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd up 2.19%.

The broader Topix index fell 0.45% to 1,715.96.

The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main board was 0.43 billion, compared with the 30-day average of 1.25 billion. (Reporting by Stanley White; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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