Nikkei tracks Wall Street lower to end at two-week trough

TOKYO, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average ended at a two-week low on Wednesday, tracking overnight Wall Street declines after weak data, although gains in energy companies on higher crude prices limited losses.

Nikkei was down 0.49% at 28,313.47, its lowest closing level since Aug. 10 and a fifth straight day of losses.

The broader Topix edged down 0.2% to 1,967.18, also a two-week trough.

The U.S. S&P 500 skidded to a two-week closing low overnight after weak business activity data stoked recession worries, amid a chorus of hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials before the central bank’s key Jackson Hole symposium, with chair Jerome Powell expected to reinforce an inflation-fighting message on Friday.

“There was some sense that we might see a pause in the recent selloff, but it’s difficult for the market to turn around as people position ahead of a big event,” a market participant at a domestic asset management firm said.

Technology was the worst performing sector, followed by healthcare and consumer stocks.

The top decliners on the index were gamemaker Konami , down 2.82%, and Nintendo, falling 2.61%. Sony slid 1.39%.

Among other heavyweights, chipmaking equipment maker Tokyo Electron declined 2.18%, becoming the biggest drag on Nikkei in percentage points. Uniqlo store operator Fast Retailing followed, with a 0.93% drop.

The utilities sector was Nikkei’s top performer, while energy shares got a boost from a surge in crude oil prices overnight after Saudi Arabia floated the idea of OPEC+ output cuts.

“Investors are taking advantage of strengthening inflation worries to buy energy stocks,” a market participant at a Japanese brokerage said.

Tokyo Electric was the Nikkei’s top gainer, leaping 9.96% after a local media report said that the government was preparing to restart some nuclear reactors.

Toyota truck unit Hino Motors rebounded 5.6%, after slumping to a more than two-year low on Tuesday amid an emissions scandal. (Reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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