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Tokyo stocks end lower on weak tech, defensive buying limits loss

This file photo shows the Tokyo Stock Exchange. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo stocks fell Wednesday, with technology issues leading the way lower as investors took a cue from a drop overnight with U.S. counterparts, but utility and other shares sensitive to domestic demand were picked up, limiting declines.

    The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 199.47 points, or 0.72 percent, from Tuesday at 27,686.40. The broader Topix index finished 1.91 points, or 0.10 percent, lower at 1,948.31.

    On the top-tier Prime Market, gainers were led by air transportation, electric power and gas, and bank issues, while mining, electric appliance and machinery issues were among the major decliners.

    The U.S. dollar briefly climbed to the upper 137 yen zone in Tokyo as market players held onto the view that the U.S. Federal Reserve will continue with interest rate hikes to fight persistent inflation, dealers said.

    At 5 p.m., the dollar fetched 137.41-44 yen compared with 136.97-137.07 yen in New York and 136.94-95 yen in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

    The euro was quoted at $1.0459-0461 and 143.73-77 yen against $1.0468-0478 and 143.37-47 yen in New York, and $1.0490-0491 and 143.65-69 yen in Tokyo late Tuesday afternoon.

    The Nikkei was weighed down by weak tech shares, including semiconductor and electric appliance companies, after the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index suffered a sharp loss for the second straight day in New York Tuesday.

    The risk-off sentiment led investors to hunt for defensive stocks with buy orders for infrastructure shares, such as utilities and railway companies, propping up Topix, analysts said.

    "With high-tech shares down, investors' money flowed into stocks that are less susceptible to outside factors," said Toshikazu Horiuchi, equity strategist at IwaiCosmo Securities Co.

    "Some of the stocks related to inbound tourism were also strong, with sentiment buoyed by China's relaxation of strict COVID-19 measures," he said

    Chip-manufacturing equipment maker Tokyo Electron dropped 1,760 yen, or 3.8 percent, to 44,820 yen, while Shin-Etsu Chemical, a maker of semiconductor silicon wafers, slid 275 yen, or 1.6 percent, to 17,040 yen.

    On the plus side, Kansai Electric Power gained 32 yen, or 2.8 percent, to 1,170 yen. East Japan Railway climbed 134 yen, or 1.8 percent, to 7,749 yen.

    Amid hopes of recovery in inbound tourism, department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings rose 44 yen, or 3.5 percent, to 1,287 yen, while cosmetics maker Shiseido climbed 130 yen, or 2.1 percent, to 6,362 yen.

    Among Prime Market issues, advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1,049 to 686, while 101 ended unchanged.

    Trading volume on the Prime Market rose to 1,045.70 million shares from Tuesday's 1,016.22 million.

    The yield on the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond was unchanged from Tuesday's close at 0.250 percent.

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