Tokyo shares close lower on Middle East tensions

Tokyo stocks closed lower Monday after Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone strikes on Israel raised fears of wider conflict in the Middle East.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.74 percent, or 290.75 points, to end at 39,232.80, while the broader Topix index gave up 0.23 percent, or 6.44 points, to 2,753.20.

The yen stood at 153.79 per dollar, its weakest rate in more than three decades, sliding from 153.24 yen in New York on Friday.

Geopolitical risks in the Middle East and lingering worries about inflation weighed on the market, analysts said.

“Risk-off moves became more dominant” after the Iranian attack, Daiwa Securities said.

But bargain hunters helped the market avoid a free-fall, IwaiCosmo Securities said.

The yen’s fall continued to concern Japanese authorities, but comments from Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki reiterating that the government is ready to take “all possible measures” failed to quell its decline.

Heavily weighted shares drove down Tokyo markets. Tokyo Electron lost 0.53 percent to 39,290 yen and Advantest fell 1.31 percent to 5,938 yen.

Tech investor SoftBank Group lost 1.92 percent to 8,322 yen, while Uniqlo-operator Fast Retailing dropped 1.28 percent to 41,620 yen.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 0.48 percent to 1,542.5 yen and Toyota ended flat at 3,767 yen.

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