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Nikkei surrenders 159 points on profit-taking

JIJI

Stocks fell Thursday, pressured by profit-taking and falls in overseas equities.

The Nikkei 225 average dropped 159.15 points, or 1.39 percent, to finish the day at 11,309.13. On Wednesday, the key market gauge gained 95.94 points. The Topix eased 10.84 points, or 1.11 percent, to end at 962.86, the first drop in four days. The index climbed 10.09 points Wednesday.

The Nikkei opened lower as large-capital stocks met with selling to lock in profits on the heels of overnight falls in U.S. stocks.

The key market yardstick extended losses to more than 160 points in early afternoon as the yen strengthened against the euro, and hovered around its intraday low for the rest of the session.

The minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy-setting meeting in January raised wariness that the Fed might end quantitative monetary easing early, brokers said.

“The Nikkei average accelerated the downswing partly due to sharp falls in Chinese stocks” after the Chinese government unveiled plans to strengthen measures to curb investment in real estate, said Yoshihiko Tabei, chief analyst at Kazaka Securities Co.

When the index approached 11,300, however, the market showed resilience, supported by buying on dips, Tabei said.

Investors were eager to sell stocks for now as the Nikkei had failed to clearly top the psychologically important 11,500 line, some analysts noted.

“Still, there is no need to worry as long as the Nikkei stays above its 25-day moving average, which is seen as the support line,” said Toshiyuki Kanayama, market analyst at Monex Inc.’s financial intelligence department.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,020 to 563 on the first section, while 117 issues were unchanged. Volume fell to 2.727 billion shares from Wednesday’s 2.822 billion.

GS Yuasa, which supplies batteries for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, shot up 7.98 percent, after a media report that the aircraft maker is expected to submit a plan to improve the trouble-prone passenger jet to U.S. authorities as early as this week.

JGBs climb higher

Japanese government bonds rebounded Thursday, helped by buying on dips stemming from higher U.S. Treasuries overnight.

The lead March futures contract on 10-year JGBs closed up 0.08 point from Wednesday at 144.43.

Volume increased to 30,448 contracts from 29,124 contracts.