Tokyo stocks lead Asia down as yen strengthens

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HONG KONG, Aug 10, (APP/AFP) – Tokyo stocks led a mild
retreat on Asian markets Wednesday as the dollar weakened against the yen on US government figures which showed a decline in productivity.

The dollar dropped to 101.32 yen from 101.88 yen in New York and was  sharply down from 102.44 yen in Tokyo Tuesday, after the US Labor Department  reported second-quarter productivity had fallen 0.5 percent.

The Japanese unit is seen as a safe haven in times of uncertainty, but a stronger yen is negative for Japanese shares as it dampens the overseas profitability of exporters.

Oil prices also extended losses in Asian trade as investors continued to digest news of an unscheduled OPEC meeting next month — an announcement that fuelled speculation of possible action to stabilise the market.

“Despite good leads from European markets, falling commodity prices and weaker US productivity are expected to dampen investor enthusiasm today,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said in a commentary to clients.

Tokyo eased 0.3 percent by the break, with Toyota, factory robot maker Fanuc and cosmetics maker Shiseido among those seeing declines.

Sydney slipped 0.4 percent even as Australia’s Commonwealth Bank posted a record Aus$9.23 billion (US$7.08 billion) in annual profit.

Australia’s biggest bank sounded a cautious note about the country’s  economic outlook however, with chief executive Ian Narev warning that the  nation’s nominal growth, which is not adjusted for inflation, needed to  strengthen.

Seoul was flat while Jakarta and Manila were also down.