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Tokyo stocks close down 1.59%

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Tokyo stocks closed down 1.59 percent Thursday at a six-week low as selling pressure mounted in late trading after the market was initially buoyed by bargain-hunting.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 219.38 points to 13,605.56, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares fell 1.36 percent, or 15.67 points, to 1,139.59.

The Nikkei had closed the morning session 0.73 percent higher as investors scooped up shares after the index slumped 4.0 percent on Wednesday.

But they quickly became sellers as the dollar slipped, after overnight losses on US bourses.

During the session, Japan's central bank said its board voted unanimously to keep its vast monetary easing programme unchanged after wrapping up a two-day policy meeting.

The BoJ, which unveiled a huge bond-buying scheme in April, said the outlook for the world's third-biggest economy was looking brighter, while early signs of rising prices were good news for its efforts to hit a two-percent inflation target in as many years.

"Both the dollar and Wall Street are consolidating right now after very healthy run-ups year-to-date," said the SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities, Hiroichi Nishi.

"Until fresh dollar-buying catalysts appear, the currency levels are not going to encourage much new investor capital," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

The dollar zigzagged against the yen in currency markets, touching 96.95 yen in the morning, before slipping to 96.24 yen in late afternoon trade. It was at 96.39 yen in New York on Wednesday.

Before the opening bell, the Japanese finance ministry announced a smaller than expected current account surplus in June of 336.3 billion yen.

The broadest measure of Japan's trade with the rest of the world was down about 20 percent from the same period last year.

Tokyo's import bills have been soaring as it continues to import large amounts of expensive fossil fuels after shutting down most of its nuclear reactors following the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

In stock trading, Uniqlo clothing chain operator Uniqlo lost 2.43 percent to 32,100 yen, mobile carrier SoftBank fell 2.68 percent to 6,170 yen and Sony slipped 1.28 percent to 1,927 yen.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130808/tokyo-stocks-close-down-159-0