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Nikkei runs out of steam as yen turns higher

JIJI

Stocks were battered Wednesday by selling to cash in gains following the yen’s strengthening against other major currencies.

The Nikkei 225 average closed down 117.71 points, or 1.04 percent, at 11,251.41. On Tuesday, the key market gauge shot up 215.96 points.

The Topix lost 11.48 points, or 1.19 percent, to end at 957.02, after rising 11.15 points the previous day.

Although the Dow Jones industrial average marked the highest closing in some five years and four months on Tuesday, Tokyo stocks opened moderately lower, pressured by selling to lock in profits after the previous day’s surge on the back of a halt in the yen’s weakening.

The yen’s rise came after an official of the Group of Seven major industrial nations reportedly said that a G-7 statement issued Tuesday was intended to signal concerns over the yen’s excessive moves.

The key stock indexes accelerated their downswing in the afternoon, dragged down by futures-led selling and selling of export-oriented names as the yen gained further ground, brokers said.

Selling also stemmed from investor expectations that the Bank of Japan will not take additional monetary easing steps at its two-day policy-setting meeting through Thursday, brokers said.

“I believe the BOJ will find it difficult to take drastic measures” at the meeting, following the G-7 official’s remarks and prior to a financial meeting of the Group of 20 major advanced and emerging economies in Moscow this weekend, said Yosuke Shimizu, senior manager at One Asia Securities Co.

“The Nikkei average is expected to hover at high levels before touching the psychologically important 11,500 line,” Shimizu said.

Falling issues overwhelmed rising ones 1,418 to 225 in the first section, while 54 issues were unchanged.

Volume decreased to 3.812 billion shares from Tuesday’s 4.119 billion shares.

Financial stocks came under profit-taking pressure after the previous day’s surge.

JGBs creep higher

Japanese government bonds edged up Wednesday, helped by the fall in Tokyo stocks and rise in the yen against other major currencies.

The lead March futures contract on 10-year JGBs closed up 0.08 point from Tuesday at 144.38. Volume fell to 27,076 contracts from 27,292.