Tokyo stocks end lower as automakers stall

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks fell today on profit-taking and as automakers were dented by a strong yen, overshadowing another record close on Wall Street.
New York's main indexes pressed on with their surge yesterday after figures showed US inflation hit a four-year high in January, fuelling bets on an interest rate hike soon.
US equities - which supply a strong lead for the Japanese market - have soared since Donald Trump last week vowed to release details of his promised tax cut plan within two to three weeks.
But US stocks "could plunge once US President Trump announces a tax cut plan, unless (there is) a significant surprise", warned Mitsushige Akino, a fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management. Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 was down on profit-taking as it approached the "psychologically important" 19,500 level, he told Bloomberg News.
The index fell 0.47 per cent, or 90.45 points, to end the day at 19,347.53, while the Topix index of all first-section issues slipped 0.17 per cent, or 2.62 points, to 1,551.07.
The dollar weakened to 113.85 yen, from 114.43 yen yesterday in Asia.
A pick-up in the yen is bad news for Japan's exporters as it makes them less competitive overseas and shrinks the value of repatriated profits.
Automakers were among the losers, with Toyota falling 0.52 per cent to 6,457 yen and Nissan slipping 0.31 per cent to 1,123.5 yen. Honda fell 0.60 per cent to 3,609 yen.