Foreigners sell off stocks in Tokyo for the ninth week

Nikkei -- Mar 16

Overseas investors were net sellers of Japanese equities for the ninth straight week through March 9 as a strong yen and U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist policies rattled markets.

In the week of March 5-9, foreigners sold 839.6 billion yen ($7.92 billion) more in Japanese cash stocks and futures than they bought, Japan Exchange Group figures out Thursday show. That brings net selling over the nine-week stretch to 7.8 trillion yen, topping the 6.9 trillion yen figure from August-September 2015, when China devalued the yuan.

The current streak is the longest period of net selling since an 11-week run in January-March 2016, when investor sentiment worsened on such factors as lower oil prices.

In the face of falling stock prices worldwide since February, investors fled to the relative safety of the Japanese currency. A stronger yen in turn clouded earnings prospects for domestic companies that export products overseas.

Concerns about global trade from Trump's protectionist policies are also causing "more investors to let go of Japanese stocks, which are often sensitive to economic conditions," said Kenji Abe of Okasan Securities. On March 6, Trump's top economic adviser and free trade advocate Gary Cohn resigned after failing to sway the president against steel and aluminum tariffs.