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Nikkei ends at 2-week low on Hong Kong unrest, trade worries

This Oct. 26, 2017 file photo shows an electronic stock quotation signboard at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the Japanese capital. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo stocks fell to a two-week low Thursday as investors grew concerned about the escalation of political unrest in Hong Kong and waning expectations for a U.S.-China trade deal.

    The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 178.32 points, or 0.76 percent, from Wednesday at 23,141.55. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 15.93 points, or 0.94 percent, lower at 1,684.40.

    Nearly all industrial categories lost ground, led by pulp and paper, textile and apparel, and rubber product issues.

    The Nikkei briefly lost more than 250 points, or 1.1 percent, in the afternoon session in line with falls in Hong Kong shares as intensifying violence in an anti-government protest in the city dampened market sentiment, brokers said.

    Protesters continued to block parts of the Asian financial hub, jamming transport and forcing all schools to close for the first time since the protest developed into full scale in June.

    "The uncertain outlook for the stability in the financial hub kept investors on alert," said Shingo Ide, chief equity strategist at the NLI Research Institute.

    Tokyo stocks were top-heavy in the morning following a report by The Wall Street Journal that trade talks between the United States and China have "hit a snag" over farm product purchases, the brokers said.

    Weaker-than-expected Japanese growth data for the July to September quarter, released just before the market opened, also tapered investors' risk appetite, while the yen's rise against the dollar prompted selling of export-oriented equities, they said.

    A stronger yen cuts exporters' overseas profits when repatriated.

    Among exporters that took a beating from a stronger yen, Panasonic slumped 19.1 yen, or 1.9 percent, to 997.4 yen, chip manufacturing equipment maker Screen Holdings shed 120 yen, or 1.6 percent, to 7,340 yen and Toyota Motor declined 94 yen, or 1.2 percent, to 7,795 yen.

    On the First Section, declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,726 to 371, while 57 ended unchanged.

    The information and communication sector led gainers after Z Holdings, operator of Yahoo Japan and controlled by telecom giant SoftBank Group, and messaging app provider Line confirmed Thursday they are in merger talks.

    Z Holdings shot up 65 yen, or 16.9 percent, to 449 yen, while Line jumped 705 yen, or 15.4 percent, to 5,290 yen after hitting a maximum allowable single-day gain.

    Trading volume on the main section rose to 1,400.4 million shares from Wednesday's 1,215.32 million shares.

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