Tokyo stocks edge lower

IOL pic jan21 br Market crash 15 INDEPENDENT MEDIA Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi, Independent Media

Tokyo - Tokyo stocks edged lower on Wednesday morning, following a weak lead from Wall Street and the deadly Brussels bombings.

US equity markets ended lower on Tuesday as airline and travel company shares took a hit following the chaos in Belgium.

The explosions in the Brussels subway and Zaventem airport just outside the Belgian capital, claimed by the Islamic State group, left around 35 dead and more than 200 injured.

“Because we've had terror attacks fairly frequently, the market has become stronger against these shocking events,” Masahiro Ichikawa, a senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management, told Bloomberg News.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index ticked down 0.04 percent, or 6.73 points, to 17,041.82 by the break, after swinging between gains and losses throughout the morning session.

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares declined 0.15 percent, or 2.05 points, at 1,367.88.

Japan Airlines gained 0.67 percent to 4,172 yen. The carrier is not operating any direct flights between Tokyo and Brussels, a company spokesman said.

However, All Nippon Airways lost 0.51 percent to 325.4 yen after a computer system malfunction on Tuesday forced it to cancel more than 100 domestic flights, affecting some 16,000 travellers.

The company cancelled one round trip between Tokyo and Brussels on Wednesday following the bombings, a spokeswoman told AFP.

In other shares, Nintendo fell 0.57 percent to 16,420 yen after a report that the game maker will stop producing the popular Wii U console this year.

Investors in Tokyo were also digesting comments that Nobel-winning US economist Paul Krugman made to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe late Tuesday.

Krugman urged Abe to abandon plans to raise its sales tax from the current eight percent to 10 percent next year and fire up more fiscal stimulus to boost the economy.

He was invited to share his view on Japan's economy after fellow Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz last week advised Abe to postpone the tax hike.

In currency markets, the dollar changed hands at 112.27 yen, down from 112.35 yen in New York Tuesday.


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