Tokyo stocks open slightly lower

TOKYO - Tokyo shares opened slightly lower Wednesday after US stocks ended mixed following the Christmas holiday break despite strong consumer confidence figures.

The Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 0.17 per cent or 14.47 points to 8,426.09. The Topix index of all first section shares fell 0.13 per cent or 0.91 points to 723.34.

Wall Street closed mixed overnight as the Sears retail chain announced it would close between 100 and 120 stores in an effort to save costs after a plunge in holiday sales.

The announcement offset a boost from pre-Christmas reports that suggested US consumer spending during the holiday season was up modestly from 2010. After a strong finish last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat, losing 2.65 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 12,291.35.

The broader S&P 500 was flat, gaining 0.10 points to 1,265.43, while the Nasdaq Composite added 6.56 points (0.25 per cent) to 2,625.20.

"The (US) consumer confidence figure is a positive catalyst, while the housing numbers merely show that it will take time for the market to bottom," Kazuhiro Takahashi of Daiwa Securities told Dow Jones Newswires.

On the forex markets, the dollar stood at 77.86 yen, barely changed from 77.88 in New York late Tuesday.

The euro was also flat at $1.3067 and 101.75 yen, compared with $1.3070 and 101.77 yen in New York.