By Stanley White
TOKYO, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Japanese shares fell on Thursday on fresh worries about U.S.-China relations and ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell later in the day.
The Nikkei 225 Index .N225 was down 0.39% to 23,200.07 by 0203 GMT, with consumer discretionary and telecommunications stocks leading the decline. The broader Topix index .TOPX fell 0.44% to 1,617.20.
The United States on Wednesday blacklisted 24 Chinese companies and targeted individuals it said were part of construction and military actions in the South China Sea. investors also turned cautious after a U.S. defence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that China launched four medium-range ballistic missiles into the South China Sea on Wednesday.
Powell is scheduled to address the Fed's annual central bankers' conference later in the day, usually held in Jackson Hole, but being conducted virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. is expected to outline changes to the Fed's monetary policy framework that will allow it to keep rates lower for longer.
Also weighing on sentiment was a likely a press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday to address concerns about his health.
There were 50 advancers on the Nikkei index against 172 decliners.
The volume of shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board .TOPX was 0.42 billion, compared to an average 1.16 billion in the past 30 days.
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