Tokyo stocks close 1.18% lower as yen appreciates amid currency row

TOKYO (AFP) - Tokyo shares slipped 1.18 per cent on Friday as the yen strengthened while investors awaited the start of a Group of 20 (G-20) meeting in Russia where forex markets are expected to top the agenda.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 133.45 points to 11,173.83, while the Topix index of all first-section shares was down 1.31 per cent, or 12.47 points, at 942.41.

"Caution is emerging over the yen's direction," Mr Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager of research at Chibagin Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

In afternoon currency trade, the US dollar weakened to 92.50 yen from 92.87 yen in New York on Thursday.

The euro bought US$1.3353 and 123.51 yen, slipping from US$1.3385 and 124.10 yen in New York on disappointing euro zone economic data.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the G-20 leading economies meet in Moscow later on Friday as criticism, mostly from Europe, grows over Japan's monetary easing, which has helped pushed down the yen.

The hot-button claims, which Japanese officials have repeatedly denied, are expected to top the international meeting's agenda.

Weighing on sentiment was fourth-quarter GDP data on Thursday that showed the 17-nation euro zone's economy shrank a worse-than-expected 0.6 per cent in the three months to December, slipping deeper into recession.

On Friday, Japan's industrial production for December was revised down slightly to 2.4 per cent from a preliminary 2.5 per cent.

The figures came a day after separate data showed the world's third-largest economy contracted for a third straight quarter by the end of December, underscoring the size of the job ahead for Japan's new government and its pledge to revive the country's fortunes.

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