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Nikkei falls as U.S. jobs report sparks profit-taking

JIJI

The benchmark Nikkei average fell back slightly in directionless trading Friday, pressured by profit-taking ahead of the release of U.S. employment data for November later in the day.

The Nikkei 225 closed down 17.77 points, or 0.19 percent, at 9,527.39. But the Topix rose 1.50 points, or 0.19 percent, to end at 790.24.

The Tokyo market opened slightly higher, helped by overnight gains in U.S. equities. But its upside was capped by profit-taking and the yen’s rise against the euro on the back of renewed worries about the course of the eurozone economy, after the European Central Bank on Thursday cut its forecast for the region’s economic growth next year, brokers said.

The Nikkei was confined in a narrow range around the previous day’s closing level throughout the session.

“The downside was solid as selling pressure was limited due to expectations of higher prices ahead,” said Hiroichi Nishi at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc, noting that low-priced construction issues and small-capital stocks attracted buying, underpinning the market.

Some market players held off on active trading ahead of the weekend and the release of closely watched U.S. jobs data, brokers said.

“The market has factored in to some extent a weak nonfarm payroll figure reflecting the impact of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated U.S. East Coast areas,” said Mitsuo Shimizu at IwaiCosmo Securities Co.

Losers outnumbered winners 870 to 645 in the first section. Volume rose to 2.092 billion shares from Thursday’s 2.011 billion.

Oil developer Inpex and camera maker Nikon lost ground, along with medical equipment manufacturer Terumo and drug firm Astellas.

Mobile phone operators Softbank and KDDI fell 2.12 percent and 2.97 percent, dragging the Nikkei down, following a newspaper report that rival NTT DoCoMo could consider introducing Apple Inc.’s iPhone. DoCoMo’s stock surged 3.47 percent.

JGBs fall on high prices

Japanese government bonds fell back Friday as worries grew over high price levels after Thursday’s surge.

The lead December futures contract on 10-year JGBs ended down 0.14 point at 145.08 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Turnover dwindled to 54,567 contracts from Thursday’s 64,642.