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Tokyo stocks close lower on fresh US-China tensions

Tokyo stocks closed lower on Friday as investors took profits, with fresh worries over US-China trade tensions and a stronger yen weighing on the market.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index eased 0.33 percent or 76.27 points to 22,850.77. Over the week, it gained 0.22 percent.

The broader Topix index edged down 0.03 percent or 0.51 points at 1,666.50, leaving a weekly gain of 1.10 percent.

Tokyo stocks had opened lower, taking a negative lead from Wall Street after Beijing slammed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a speech it said had "viciously attacked" China.

In the latest hawkish take on China by the Trump administration, Pompeo on Wednesday called Beijing "truly hostile" to the United States and vowed to ramp up pressure on China on multiple fronts.

Bloomberg News reported that as a four-day policy plenum is taking place in Beijing, Chinese officials cast doubt on the chances of reaching a comprehensive long-term trade deal with the US, even as the two sides near the signing of a "phase one" agreement.

The dollar fell against the yen, a negative for Japanese exporters, trading at 107.99 yen against 108.00 yen in New York Thursday afternoon.

But early losses in equities narrowed with investors hunting companies that had announced strong earnings, noted Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

The market was "resilient" thanks to those companies, he told AFP.

The Tokyo market also took "relief" from a private survey released Friday that showed October factory activity in China expanded at its quickest pace since February 2017, he said.

Investors were now waiting for US economic data later Friday.

If they proved to be good, market sentiment will pick up further, Sengoku added.

Investors should not worry too much about prospects of a long-term US-China agreement, Sengoku said.

"How many market players are actually confident that they will reach a long-term deal? It is too early to worry about it now," he said.

In individual stocks trade, Nintendo soared 7.45 percent to 41,500 yen after announcing robust first-half sales and operating profit thanks to demand for its a smaller, cheaper version of its popular Switch console.

Mazda fell 1.19 percent to 998 yen after the Nikkei business daily reported its full-year operating profit would be significantly lower than expected due to slow US and China sales.