August 21, 2018 / 7:24 AM / 8 months ago

Nikkei edges up on futures-buying; mobile carriers tumble

* KDDI, SoftBank, NTT Docomo, Rakuten plunge

* Dollar recovers psychologically important level

* Investors on sidelines before U.S.-China trade talks

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei shed losses and edged up after a weakening of the yen spurred futures purchases, but mobile phone carriers tumbled after a media report cited a Japanese official as saying the industry needs reform.

The Nikkei share average, down much of the day, ended 0.1 percent higher at 22,219.73.

The dollar fell below a psychologically important 110 yen level for the first time since June 28 after U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates.

But in the afternoon, the dollar recovered to trade at 110.04 yen, leading investors to buy futures. Index-heavyweight Fast Retailing rose 2.3 percent for the day, adding a hefty 42 points to the Nikkei benchmark.

“Investors were spooked with the dollar-yen level in early trade, but they were relieved that it recovered later,” said Tsuyoshi Horota, general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities.

However, the broader Topix shed 0.4 percent to 1,685.42, and declining issues outnumbered advancers 1,455 to 563.

Analysts said investors’ risk appetite has stayed low amid uncertainty over the lower-level trade talks between the United States and China expected to start mid-week.

“Investors are staying on the sidelines as we don’t know what the outcome will be. The market could go in any direction after the talks,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Against a backdrop of global trade disputes, Trump said in an interview with Reuters on Monday that China was manipulating the yuan to make up for having to pay duties imposed by Washington on some imports from China.

Mobile carriers stumbled after Kyodo News reported that Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a speech in Sapporo, Hokkaido, that the country’s mobile phone industry needs reform. He also said that mobile fees should be cut by about 40 percent, Kyodo said.

KDDI Corp plunged 5.2 percent, NTT Docomo tanked 4.0 percent, SoftBank Group Corp dropped 1.6 percent and e-commerce operator Rakuten, which plans to launch a mobile phone business, stumbled 3.6 percent.

Electronics shares also lost ground, with Panasonic declining 2.1 percent and Alps Electric falling 1.4 percent. (Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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