TOKYO (dpa-AFX) - The Japanese stock market is declining on Thursday, with a stronger yen and doubts about U.S. President Donald Trump's ability to implement reforms weighing on investor sentiment. Investors also digested minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 25.42 points or 0.13 percent to 19,703.86, off a low of 19,679.37 earlier.
Among the major exporters, Sony is rising 0.3 percent, Panasonic is adding 0.2 percent and Canon is edging up less than 0.1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is declining 0.2 percent.
Among automakers, Toyota is declining 0.3 percent and Honda is down 0.2 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing almost 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.2 percent.
In the oil space, Inpex is losing almost 2 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is declining almost 1 percent.
Among the major gainers, Toho Zinc is rising more than 10 percent, Dowa Holdings is higher by almost 4 percent and Pacific Metals is gaining almost 3 percent.
On the flip side, Nichirei Corp. and Sumitomo Electric Industries are declining more than 2 percent each.
In economic news, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan posted a merchandise trade surplus of 418.8 billion yen in July, down 17.0 percent on year. The headline figure topped forecasts for a surplus of 327.1 billion yen but was down from 439.8 billion yen in June.
Exports climbed 13.4 percent on year to 6.494 trillion yen, beating forecasts for 13.2 percent. Imports picked up an annual 16.3 percent, versus expectations for 17.1 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 109 yen-range on Thursday.
On Wall Street, stocks rose Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up for a fourth day despite political turmoil in Washington DC and the disintegration of the president's business advisory council. The Federal Reserve remains on track to unwind its $4.5 trillion balance sheet at an 'upcoming' meeting, according to the minutes of the central bank's July monetary policy decision.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 25.88 points or 0.1 percent, to end at 22,024.87, the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 12.10 points or 0.2 percent to close at 6,345.11 and the S&P 500 rose 3.5 points or 0.1 percent to close at 2,468.11.
European stocks rose for a third day on Wednesday as investors were encouraged by some solid economic data. The DAX of Germany climbed 0.71 percent, the CAC 40 of France rose 0.71 percent and the FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.67 percent.
Crude oil futures tumbled Wednesday, despite a significant drop in U.S. oil inventories. WTI crude declined $0.77 or 1.6 percent to close at $46.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX