Japan shares down as exports fall for a tenth month

Mount Fuji is seen behind an international cargo terminal in Tokyo Image copyright Getty Images

Japanese share markets closed lower after exports fell for the 10th month in a row thanks to a stronger yen.

Overseas shipments fell 14% in July from a year ago and imports fell 24.7% leaving Japan's trade surplus at 513.5bn yen ($5.2bn; £4bn). The falls were the sharpest since 2009.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 1.6% lower at 16,486.01.

The yen rose again on Thursday, passing the key 100 level against the US dollar for the third time this year.

"Looking ahead, we expect the yen to weaken against the dollar towards the end of the year, so the annual growth rates of export and import values should start to recover in coming months," senior Japan economist at Capital Economist Marcel Thieliant said.

"But with external demand sluggish, trade volumes are unlikely to stage a strong rebound."

Rest of Asia

Japan's broader Topix index matched the Nikkei's fall, losing 1.6% to end at 1,290.79.

Other markets are also trading mixed after Federal Reserve minutes diminished expectations of an interest rate increase next month.

Seoul's Kospi rose 0.6% to end at 2,054.89. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.2% to finish at 3,104.11.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose by 1% to close at 23,028.08, led by shares of internet giant Tencent which reported better-than-expected profit on Wednesday.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5% to wrap at 5,507.80 despite better-than-expected data that showed the country's jobless rate fell in July.

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.7% due to an increase in part-time jobs created for last month's national election.

Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital called today's data "reasonably solid".

However, the overall jobs market is "not quite as strong as it looks" due to the fall in full-time employment, he said.