/

Nikkei suffers another minor drop on yen pause

JIJI

The Nikkei 225 average lost further ground Friday amid the slowing pace of the yen’s depreciation against major counterparts.

The key gauge fell 12.74 points to end at 15,734.46. On Thursday, it lost 61.53 points.

The Topix, however, ended 3.00 points higher at 1,297.39 after losing 0.13 point Thursday.

The Nikkei sank in the morning, following an overnight drop on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average softened on disappointing earnings reports from some major financial firms.

In Tokyo, investors also grew wary of the halt in the yen’s recent weakening against other major currencies.

In the afternoon, the Nikkei regained upward momentum and briefly turned positive thanks to futures-led buying before ending the session slightly lower, brokers said.

While the Nikkei suffered losses in the morning due to selling in some export-oriented names and other major components, the overall market was resilient, with more than 70 percent of the issues in the first section gaining ground for the day.

“It is hard to see the bigger picture just by looking at the movements in the Nikkei,” Yoshihiko Tabei, chief analyst at Kazaka Securities Co., said, noting that the key market yardstick is prone to speculative trading.

The market is still on an upward trend, as shown in the strength of small- and mid-cap issues, although some price fluctuations are likely over the short term, Tabei said.

Investors are keenly awaiting September-December earnings reports that will hit the market from next week, an official at a bank-affiliated brokerage said.

Despite the slowdown of its falls, the yen is still much weaker than the levels assumed by most Japanese companies, the official added, pointing to growing expectations for upward revisions in their full-year earnings estimates.

Rising issues trumped falling ones 1,281 to 404 in the first section, while 93 issues were unchanged. Volume dwindled to 2.738 billion shares from 3.155 billion Thursday.

JGBs in tight range

Japanese government bonds moved in a narrow range Friday amid quiet trading ahead of the weekend.

The lead March futures contract on 10-year JGBs finished up 0.02 point from Thursday at 144.20.

Volume fell to 20,843 contracts from 25,604.