TOKYO: Tokyo shares opened lower Monday despite positive economic growth numbers as market attention stayed fixed on tension between the United States and North Korea.
Investors largely shrugged off government data showing Japan’s economy grew 1.0 percent in the three months from April to June, marking the longest economic expansion in more than a decade.
Instead they were keeping watch on North Korea and the US for further clues in their standoff over Pyongyang’s threat to launch missiles towards the western Pacific island of Guam, a US territory.
Trump has hinted at military options against North Korea and said that Pyongyang would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it were to keep making threats.
“The market is in a ‘risk-off’ mood, and falls are likely particularly during the early part of this week,” Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index gave up 0.97 percent or 190.57 points to 19,539.17 in the first few minutes while the Topix index of all first-section issues fell 1.13 percent, or 18.33 points, to 1,598.92.
Many Japanese traders stayed away from the market for Japan’s traditional ‘obon’ holiday.
Just before trading began, the government announced the gross domestic product (GDP) figure, which comfortably beat market’s expectations for a 0.6 percent rise.
Calculated on an annualised basis, growth came in at 4.0 percent, according to the figures released by the Cabinet Office.
Tokyo investors, returning to the market after a three-day weekend, were playing a catch-up after Asian and European shares dropped Friday.
Okasan Online Securities added that recent falls in global market may have also been fuelled by short-term speculators using tensions over North Korea as a cover to drive down share prices.
The dollar, meanwhile, stood at 109.33 yen, edging up from 109.11 yen in New York on Friday, but still sharply lower than 109.99 yen seen Thursday in Tokyo before the long weekend.