Japanese stocks dropped on Wednesday morning after the dollar eased against the yen on
weak U.S. economic data, while financials stocks underperformed hit by lower U.S. yields.
The Nikkei shares average fell 0.5 percent to 19,817.68 in mid-morning trade.
The dollar skidded 0.5 percent to one-week lows against its perceived safe-haven Japanese counterpart and last stood at 112.56 yen.
U.S. housing starts dropped 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million units, the lowest since November.
The market’s mood was further dampened by weakening confidence over the U.S. president’s ability to push through tax reforms and stimulus programmes investors had been hopeful for since his election in November.
President Donald Trump asked his now-dismissed FBI Director James Comey to end the agency’s investigation into ties between former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia, according to a source who had seen a memo written by Comey.