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Tokyo stocks down 0.29% by break

Tokyo stocks slipped 0.29 percent Wednesday morning following losses on Wall Street, while the stronger yen hit exporters.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index eased 40.33 points to 14,034.92 by the break, while the Topix index of all first-section shares fell 0.30 percent, or 3.45 points, to 1,149.93.

"The 14,000 mark is proving to be a somewhat reliable support level for the time being," said Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management.

"But with the pressure of a weaker dollar not looking like it will subside in the face of declining US Treasury yields, it would not be a surprise to see an eventual Nikkei breakdown to the 13,500 level."

A rise in the yen against the dollar dents the profitability of Japanese exporters such as Toyota and Sony and, in turn, tends to weigh on their shares.

Shortly before the opening bell, official data showed Japan's trade deficit narrowed 7.8 percent on-year in April, but that appeared to have little impact as investors focused on a Bank of Japan policy meeting.

During the break the bank said it would hold fire on expanding its monetary easing campaign and added that the world's number three economy was picking up pace, despite fears a sales tax rise will dent consumer spending.

The yen strengthened after the announcement, with the dollar buying 101.20 yen from above 101.30 yen before the statement.

Traders are now keeping tabs on a news conference by bank governor Haruhiko Kuroda, looking for clues about when it might announce further measures.

On Wall Street, shares slumped on a batch of mostly disappointing retail earnings and after a US Federal Reserve official called for a speedy rise in benchmark interest rates.

The Dow sank 0.83 percent, the S&P 500 fell 0.65 percent and the Nasdaq 0.70 percent.