Tokyo stocks open lower ahead of US Fed meeting


Tokyo stocks opened lower on Wednesday in cautious trade ahead of a closely watched US Federal Reserve policy meeting.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 0.29 percent, or 87.54 points, at 29,833.55 in early trade, while the broader Topix index slipped 0.45 percent, or 8.93 points, to 1,972.57.

Market players “tend to take a wait-and-see attitude” ahead of the results of the policy meeting later in the day, senior market analyst Toshiyuki Kanayama of Monex said in a note.

“With rates and guidance expected to be unchanged, focus will be on the refreshed set of forecasts given the fiscal package and (US) Treasury Secretary (Janet) Yellen’s observation that full employment could be reached by mid-2022,” added analyst Tapas Strickland of National Australia Bank in a note.

The dollar fetched 109.07 yen in early Asian trade, against 109.00 yen in New York late Tuesday.

In Tokyo, construction machine manufacturer Komatsu was down 1.18 percent at 3,434 yen, shipping firm Nippon Yusen was off 1.46 percent at 3,720 yen, and Toyota was down 1.12 percent at 8,176 yen.

Tokyo Electric Power plunged 8.63 percent to 360 yen after the Japanese nuclear watchdog said one of its biggest plants lacked measures against potential terror attacks, a move that could further delay plans to resume the plant’s operation.

Japan’s trade balance in February was a surplus of 217.4 billion yen ($2 billion), against market expectations of a 420 billion yen surplus, according to data released by the finance ministry before the opening bell.

The figure did not prompt a strong market reaction.

Wall Street shares closed mixed, with the benchmark Dow ending down 0.4 percent at 32,825.95 and the broad-based S&P off 0.2 percent, while the tech-rich Nasdaq finished up 0.1 percent.