* Dollar-yen level drops below what big manufacturers expect
* Automakers underperform on worries about earnings
* Financials fall on weak U.S. yields
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, April 17 Japanese stocks edged down on
Monday morning, moving closer to near five-month lows after the
dollar fell on rising tensions over North Korea, with exporters
continuing to underperform on worries that a strong yen would
eat into their earnings.
The Nikkei 225 share average fell 0.4 percent to
18,266.49 in midmorning trade. If the benchmark index falls
below 18,222.82, an intraday low hit on Nov. 28, it will be the
lowest since November 22.
The tougher stance taken by U.S. President Donald Trump with
North Korea has increased regional tensions, with North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un rebuffing admonitions from China and
proceeding with missile tests. North Korea launched a failed
ballistic missile test on Sunday.
On Monday, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged North
Korea to refrain from taking further provocative actions, comply
with U.N. resolutions and abandon its nuclear missile
"The market has priced in some of the geopolitical concerns,
but we are not entirely relieved," said Takuya Takahashi, a
strategist at Daiwa Securities.
With Japanese companies reporting their full-year earnings
later this month, Takahashi said that investors are increasingly
becoming worried about manufacturers' earnings.
Exporters lost ground, with Toyota Motor Corp
shedding 1.4 percent, Mazda Motor Corp stumbling 2.0
percent and Panasonic Corp declining 1.0 percent.
While the latest Bank Of Japan tankan survey showed that big
manufacturers expect the dollar to average 108.43 yen for this
fiscal year, the dollar traded at 108.14 yen on Monday,
its lowest since mid-November.
Financial shares also took a hit after the yield on 10-year
U.S. Treasury notes fell 14 basis points, for the
biggest weekly decline since January 2016.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group shed 1.2 percent,
Dai-ichi Life Holdings declined 1.5 percent and T&D
Holdings tumbled 1.8 percent.
The broader Topix shed 0.3 percent to 1,455.46 and
the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.3 perfect to
(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)