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Nikkei hits 1-1/2 week low on Sino-U.S. tensions,…

TOKYO, July 27 – Japanese shares slid to a 1-1/2 week low on Monday as worries over worsening ties between China and the United States soured investor mood, and a firmer yen weighed on exporters.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.16% at 22,715.85, its lowest closing since July 17.

Shares pared losses in the afternoon, however, as traders speculated the Bank of Japan would buy ETFs after a weak morning session.

Market sentiment continued to be hit by further deterioration in Sino-U.S. relations, following the tit-for-tat closures of consulates in both countries.

The tense backdrop underpinned the safe-haven yen, with the currency rising as high as 105.38 yen to the dollar, a level unseen since March 16.

Exporters Mitsubishi Motors shed 3.24%, Toshiba Corp declined 2.16% and Honda Motor Co Ltd dropped 0.54%.

Among other individual shares, defence-related names gained due to tensions between the two largest economies.

Mine manufacturer Ishikawa Seisakusho Ltd rallied 6.23%, while flare manufacturer Hosoya Pyro-Engineering Co Ltd added 7.57%.

The largest percentage loss in the index was Nikon Corp , which fell 7.15% after Intel Corp shares signalled it may stop manufacturing its own chip components.

Other semiconductor-related companies were also bruised, with Screen Holdings Co Ltd slipping 1.81%, while Disco Corp and Alps Alpine Co Ltd lost 2.22% and 3.59%, respectively.

The broader Topix recouped its early losses to close up 0.24% at 1,576.69. (Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; editing by Uttaresh.V and Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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