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Tokyo shares open flat, eyes on China

Tokyo shares opened nearly flat Friday after falls on Wall Street, with investors eyeing the opening of China's National People's Congress.

The Nikkei 225 index rose 0.06 percent or 11.99 points to 20,564.30, while the broader Topix index added 0.02 percent or 0.37 points to 1,491.58.

"The market was expected to trend top heavy. The three US indices all fell and European shares also showed softness," Okasan Online Securities said in a note to clients.

Investors are turning their focus on China as Beijing kicks off its National People's Congress. 

Officials are expected to discuss the coronavirus, economic growth and security measures in Hong Kong, where anti-Beijing demonstrations have flared, among other issues, the brokerage said.

"The Hong Kong risks warrant close monitoring for the immediate term," it said.

"It will likely be only temporary uncertainty. But it may become a reason among speculators to sell," Okasan said.

Looking beyond the immediate term, the rising tension between China and the United States continued to discourage investors.

US President Donald Trump's increasingly thorny rhetoric about Beijing over the coronavirus and economic issues weighed on Wall Street overnight.

"Trading (in Tokyo) is expected to stay subdued with the lingering friction between the United States and China," Okasan added.

On a brighter front, Tokyo investors breathed a sigh of relief after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that he will seek expert advice on Monday on whether to lift the state of emergency imposed on the greater Tokyo area hit by the coronavirus. 

Abe has already lifted the state of emergency for the rest of the nation, except for the hard-hit Hokkaido region in the north.

The market was also monitoring the Bank of Japan as it holds an emergency policy meeting, with many expecting fresh assistance for small to medium size businesses.

Position adjustment ahead of the weekend was also pressuring the market, Okasan said.

Among major shares, SoftBank Group rose 2.48 percent to 4,591 yen after it announced it would sell a stake in its mobile division to buy back its own shares. 

Sony rose 1.15 percent to 6.873. But Nintendo dropped 0.31 percent to 44,920. 

Toyota added 0.44 percent to 6,390. Japan Airlines rose 1.17 percent to 1,897 yen.

Topics: Tokyo , Japan , Nikkei 225 index , China , Shinzo Abe
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