January 15, 2020 / 2:53 AM / 12 days ago

Nikkei slips off 4-week high on caution over U.S.-China trade deal

TOKYO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Japanese shares eased on Wednesday after hitting a four-week high in the previous session, as comments by a top U.S. official that current tariffs on Chinese goods would stay for now made investors cautious ahead of the signing of a preliminary trade deal.

The Nikkei share average fell 0.29% to 23,955.92, retreating from a four-week high of 24,060 touched the previous day, while the broader Topix lost 0.42% to 1,733.23.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said there was no agreement in place with China on further tariff reductions, taking the shine out of market enthusiasm about the upcoming trade deal.

Many investors now look for the details of the deal, which is slated to be signed at the White House at 11:30 a.m. (1630GMT) on Wednesday.

Along with global shares, the Nikkei has rallied nearly 20% from its August low on hopes of a truce in the tariff dispute.

Investors took profits from recent gainers such as Sony and SoftBank, which fell 1.2% and 0.9% respectively.

Upcoming earnings announcements also pose another hurdle for investors as the market’s rally in the past few months has been driven by a rise in P/E, rather than actual earnings.

Toho fell 4.2% to become the top decliner on the Nikkei after the film and entertainment company’s earnings in the three months to January fell short of investors’ strong expectations.

Ryohin Keikaku fell 3.2% in heavy trade for a second day after the operator of Muji brand shops cut its earnings forecast due to a slump in South Korea and Hong Kong businesses.

Square Enix Holdings dropped 4.9% after the game company announced a delay in the launch of a new game.

More Japanese companies will announce earnings next month. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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