Tokyo stocks open down 0.39% on stronger yen

TOKYO (AFP) - Tokyo stocks opened 0.39 per cent lower on Wednesday after the yen strengthened, with investors fleeing to safer assets amid Russia's ruble crisis.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 65.98 points to 16,689.34 at the start.

The yen is seen as a secure investment target in times of economic uncertainty, but the stronger currency hits Japanese exporters as it makes their products less competitive abroad and erodes income when repatriated.

The yen gained ground on both the US dollar and the euro on Tuesday, as the Russian central bank's sharp rate hike to beat back capital flight only partly stemmed the ruble's fall.

Investors were also waiting for the outcome of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting to be wrapped up Wednesday. The Fed is expected to adjust its forecasting language to allow a better understanding of its interest-rate hike plans.

The dollar was 117.02 yen early Wednesday, up from 116.59 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon but still down from 117.39 yen in Tokyo earlier Tuesday.

The euro bought 146.34 yen and $1.2504 against 145.86 yen and $1.2511 in US trade.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.65 per cent amid unease over plunging oil prices and a crash in the Russian ruble.

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