November 19, 2019 / 2:13 AM / 17 days ago

Tokyo shares retreat as firmer yen weighs on exporters

TOKYO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Japan’s stock benchmark Nikkei edged down on Tuesday as investors await clarity on the progress of U.S-China trade negotiations, with exporters pressured by a firmer yen against the dollar.

The Nikkei share average dropped 0.2% to 23,361.35 in late-morning trade, and the broader Topix fell 0.1% at 1,698.44.

Wall Street’s main indexes were mostly flat, looking for direction on trade, though they ended the day inching up to record high closing levels.

Overnight, CNBC reported the mood in Beijing was pessimistic about the prospects of sealing a phase-one deal with Washington.

On the other hand, a new extension allowing U.S. companies to continue doing business with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd suggested something of an olive branch.

The Japanese yen firmed as much as 0.2% to 108.47 versus the dollar early on Tuesday, weighing on exporters as a strong local currency hurts corporate profits when they are repatriated.

Export-oriented Fanuc Corp shed 1.0%, while Toyota Motor Corp fell 0.7% and Sony Corp shed 1.3%.

Semiconductor-related shares retreated as some profit-taking selling kicked in, with SUMCO Corp shedding 2.3% and Disco Corp falling 0.5%.

The Nikkei’s heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp fell 1.4% after Reuters reported that the New York State Attorney General is investigating WeWork, citing sources. SoftBank Group is the majority owner of the office-sharing startup.

Elsewhere, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp dived 3.5% after Japan’s largest chemical maker said it will pay 491.8 billion yen ($4.5 billion) to make Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp a fully-owned subsidiary. Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma shares were untraded amid heavy buy orders. (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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