Weak data drags Japan stocks lower – BBC News

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Weak data drags Japan stocks lower

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Japanese shares have opened lower, with data which showed weakness in household spending weighing on investor confidence.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 was down by 0.23% – or 38.56 points – to 17,029.46.

Before the start of the trading session, fresh data showed household spending fell 0.4% in April, compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile industrial output showed a surprise 0.3% rise for April, compared with forecasts for a 1.5% drop.

The increase in industrial production came despite earthquakes which hit the Kumamoto prefecture in April, a major manufacturing hub for big Japanese firms, including Sony and carmaker Toyota.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to point to weakness in household spending as one of the reasons for a widely expected postponement of the nation’s sales tax hike.

Mr Abe is reported to want to delay the hike to 2019. The next tax hike was supposed to take place in April next year, with an increase to 10% from the current 8%.

An official announcement could take place on Wednesday, at the end of Japan’s current session on parliament.

In Australia, the S&P ASX/200 opened 0.67% lower at 5,371.50 points.

Over in South Korea, the benchmark Kospi was flat at 1,967.54.

Markets in the UK and US will kick off the trading week later today, after a long weekend.