May 10, 2019 / 6:50 AM / 2 months ago

Nikkei suffers worst weekly loss this year as U.S.-China ties sour

* Nikkei loses 4.1% this week, Topix down 4.2%

* Panasonic tumbles 6.5% on weaker-than-expected profit forecast

* Mitsubishi Motors dives 13.8% after Nomura cuts target price

By Daniel Leussink and Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, May 10 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei booked its largest weekly loss in over 4 months on Friday as the United States raised tariffs on Chinese goods, escalating a trade dispute that is inflicting growing damage on other export-reliant Asian economies.

The Nikkei share average closed down 0.27% at 21,344.92 points, falling for a fifth straight session.

The benchmark index lost 4.1% on the week, its worst such performance since it recoiled 5.7% in the week of Dec. 21, 2018.

Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities, said Japanese equities may drop further if U.S. equities extend losses after the tariffs went into force.

“U.S. stocks didn’t lose much during the previous session. It showed there were investors who didn’t think the tariff hike to 25% would go through,” said Miura.

Though cyclical stocks such as shipping firms fell, machinery manufacturers with high exposure to China managed to recover some of their losses this week on short-covering.

Shippers Kawasaki Kisen and Mitsui OSK Lines closed down 2.3% and 1.5%, respectively.

Robot maker Fanuc Corp gained 0.8% and Yaskawa Electric finished 2.3% higher.

Panasonic Corp fell 6.5% after it forecast operating profit for the year through March 2020 to slump 27% to 300 billion yen ($2.7 billion) from a year earlier.

That was a bigger drop than the 12% decline expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv data.

Mitsubishi Motors tumbled 13.8% after Nomura Securities cut its target price by 23% to 560 yen, citing the yen’s appreciation against the Australian dollar and euro.

The carmaker’s strategy to focus on SUVs and pick-up trucks and markets such as Southeast Asia and Australia was right, Nomura analysts said, but they added “the company faces a slowdown in key markets as well as increased fixed costs and a strong yen.”

Subaru Corp dropped 2.7% after it inadvertently uploaded its financial results on its website earlier than planned.

Its operating profit fell 48.5% to 195.53 billion yen ($1.78 billion) in the year ended in March, hit by a string of recalls, production stoppages and inspection cheating.

The broader Topix closed nearly flat, losing 0.08% to 1,549.42.

It lost 4.2% this week, also its worst performance since the week of Dec. 21, 2018, when it gave up 6.5%. (Editing by Darren Schuettler & Kim Coghill)

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