Japanese stocks slide, trade subdued as investors await Fed meeting

Reuters

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    * Insurers underperform on expectations for lower rates
    * Tsuruha bucks weakness

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, June 18 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei dropped to a
1-1/2-week low in choppy trade on Tuesday but most investors
stayed on the sidelines ahead of a U.S. central bank policy
decision later in the week.
    The Nikkei share average  .N225  ended 0.7% lower at
20,972.71, the lowest close since June 7. The broader Topix
 .TOPX  dropped 0.7% to 1,528.67.
    Trading was subdued, however, with only 1 billion shares
changing hands, against a daily average last month of around 1.4
billion.    
    Expectations that the Federal Reserve will start cutting
interest rates has helped global markets recover from heavy
selling sparked by intensifying global trade disputes.
    While the Fed is unlikely to cut rates at its two-day
meeting, ending on Thursday, its concluding statement will be
analysed for clues on possible near-term moves to ease, analysts
said.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N23L160
    "The market has nearly priced in hopes for a U.S. rate cut
eventually since the Fed chairman made remarks on June 4
suggesting a lower rate," said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at
Daiwa Securities, adding that the Nikkei will likely trade
around 21,500 in relief if the decision is in line with market
hopes.
    Insurers underperformed on expectations for lower rates.
Japan Post Insurance  7181.T  declined 1.2% and T&D Holdings
 8795.T  skidded 1.1%.
    Outperforming the  broader market, Tsuruha Holdings
 3391.T , a drugstore operator, jumped 4% after it said it
expects its net profit to grow 5.1% to 26.1 billion yen for the
year ending May 2020.
    Exporters were mixed, with Nintendo Co  7974.T  rising 0.7%,
Sony Corp  6758.T  shedding 0.2% and Tokyo Electron  8035.T 
dropping 1%.
    Tateru Inc  1435.T , whose employees were involved in
hundreds of cases of tampering with customer loan documents last
year, tumbled 18.6% after the Nikkei business daily reported
that the land ministry decided to suspend operations.

 (Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
 ((ayai.tomisawa@thomsonreuters.com; 81-3-6441-1875; Reuters
Messaging: ayai.tomisawa.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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