Stronger yen weighs on Nikkei

Tokyo skyline Image copyright AFP

A five-session winning streak for Japan's Nikkei came to an end as shares were hit by the yen strengthening against the dollar.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index finished down 279.25 points, or 1.6%, at 16,955.73.

The dollar fell to below 110 yen. A stronger yen is generally seen as negative for Japanese exporters.

The moves came as Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, announced a delay to a planned rise in sales tax.

The increase in the sales tax rate to 10% from 8%, which had been planned for 2017, has now been pushed back to late 2019.

Among individual stocks, Softbank rose by 0.4% after the Japanese technology firm said it was offloading $7.9bn (£5.4bn) worth of shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The transaction will reduce Softbank's stake in Alibaba from 32.2% to 28%.

In China, the Shanghai Composite edged down 0.1% to 2,913.51, while in Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index ended 54.11 points lower at 20,760.98.

In Australia, the S&P ASX/200 index closed down 55.39 points, or 1% ,at 5,323.17.

South Korea's Kospi index was flat for most of the session and closed at 1,982.72.