Nikkei falls to 1-week lows as North Korea tensions persist

The broader Topix shed 0.8 per cent to 1,590.71 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dropped 0.7 per cent to 14,109.19. TOKYO: Japan’s Nikkei share average brushed one-week lows in choppy trade on Tuesday as tensions on the Korean peninsula sapped risk appetite.

The Nikkei shed 0.6 per cent to end at 19,385.81 after initially opening slightly higher. It fell as low as 19,354.59, its weakest level since Aug. 29. Index heavyweight Fast Retailing dropped on weak sales.

«The biggest factor weighing on the market now appears to be uncertainty about North Korea, with investors waiting to see what happens next,» said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.

«With no way of knowing if the situation will escalate or not, many investors think it’s a good time to lock in their gains,» he said. South Korea said on Tuesday an agreement with the United States to scrap a weight limit on its warheads would help it respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test two days ago.

South Korea’s Asia Business Daily, citing an unidentified source, reported on Tuesday that North Korea had been spotted moving a rocket that appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) towards its west coast.

On Monday, the United States accused North Korea’s trading partners of aiding its nuclear ambitions and said Pyongyang was «begging for war» after signs that more missile launches were planned.

A stronger yen also weighed on shares, with the dollar sliding 0.4 per cent to 109.34 yen.

Fast Retailing, the operator of Uniqlo clothing outlets, fell 0.7 per cent after its domestic same-store sales slipped 3.4 per cent in August from a year earlier.

Japan’s bitcoin-related stocks tumbled, with Infoteria Corp shedding 9.5 per cent, Remixpoint Inc down 11.2 per cent, and Ceres Inc losing 7.7 per cent after China on Monday banned raising funds through launches of token-based digital currencies.

Shares of Japan Airlines fell 1.1 per cent after a New York-bound JAL flight returned to Tokyo’s Haneda airport earlier on Tuesday, landing safely after experiencing engine trouble.

Nintendo Co was down 2.4 per cent on profit-taking, moving away from a 3-1/2 week high hit last Friday.

The Mothers market of start-up shares stumbled 4.7 per cent to hit its lowest in more than four months.

The broader Topix shed 0.8 per cent to 1,590.71 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dropped 0.7 per cent to 14,109.19.

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