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Tokyo shares tread water after US-China trade deal; machinery makers lag

Japanese shares were little changed on Thursday after the United States and China signed an interim deal to defuse their 18-month long trade war, with factory automation machinery makers under pressure on soft industry data.

The Nikkei share average added 0.1 per cent to 23,933.13, while the broader Topix eased 0.1 per cent to 1,728.72.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Wednesday signed a deal that will roll back some tariffs and see China boost purchases of US goods and services by $200 billion over two years.

However, the deal does not address structural economic issues that led to the conflict, and does not fully eliminate most of the tariffs imposed by both sides, while the $200 billion purchase targets look daunting to achieve.

“Given the amount of speculation by the markets and commentary by officials ahead of Wednesday’s signing, it is unsurprising markets have not rallied too strongly upon final signing,” said Hannah Anderson, global markets strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management in Hong Kong.

Indeed, Tokyo-listed shares reacted more to domestic matters as investors looked past an initial trade deal between the world’s two largest economies.

Factory automation machinery makers came under pressure after the Japan Machine Tool Builders’ Association released flash orders data for December, which showed machine tool orders slumped 33.6 per cent year-on-year last month.

Yaskawa Electric Corp shed 2.9 per cent, SMC Corp dropped 2.2 per cent and Makino Milling Machine fell 1.0 per cent.

Toshiba Machine jumped 3.5 per cent after the former subsidiary of Toshiba Corp said it would sell its 15.8 per cent stake in NuFlare to its former parent, aiming to shrug off a higher counter offer by Hoya Corp. The tender by Toshiba Machine would allow Toshiba to secure more than two-thirds of NuFlare.

Toshiba dipped 0.9 per cent and Hoya declined 1.1 per cent.

Elsewhere, sports gear maker Asics Corp climbed 2.5 per cent after British media reported that World Athletics may ban the use of Nike’s controversial running shoes with super-thick soles.

Source: Economic Times