Tokyo: Tokyo stocks closed lower Thursday with investors locking in profits as the yen strengthened and after heavy Wall Street losses fuelled by worries about rising interest rates.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 1.56 percent, or 343.77 points, to close at 21,724.47, while the broader Topix index gave up 1.59 percent, or 28.04 points, to 1,740.20.
US stocks dropped for the second straight session, following Tuesday's congressional testimony by new Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell, whose comments were interpreted to mean the central bank could accelerate the pace of rate hikes.
He will make another congressional appearance later Thursday.
The sell-off filtered through to Asia, with exporters in Tokyo hit by the stronger yen.
The dollar was trading at 106.80 yen in Asia, compared with 106.71 yen in New York but well down from 107.06 yen in Tokyo on Wednesday.
"Investors were wary about the yen's rising trend, prompting profit-taking to dominate the market," Okasan Online Securities said in a note to clients.
Weak US economic indicators, falls on Wall Street and the rising "Volatility Index" of US shares also cooled sentiment, said SMBC Nikko Securities in a note.
In addition to fears over higher interest rates and a firm yen, huge sales or purchases "by funds at the beginning of a new month may affect the market", Kyoko Amemiya, senior market advisor at SBI Securities, told AFP.
Exporters were down, with Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal falling 1.55 percent to 2,517 yen and Toyota down 2.09 percent at 7,084 yen.
Toyota's smaller partner Subaru lost 1.40 percent to 3,727 yen after media reports said it would replace its president in the wake of an inspection scandal, though the company denied the report in a statement early Thursday.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries dropped 4.72 percent to 3,735 yen after it said it had supplied nearly 150 faulty wheel parts to Japan's bullet trains that could crack and potentially cause a derailment. (AFP)
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