After showing wild swings, stocks ended lower for the fifth straight day on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Friday amid a wait-and-see mood ahead of the release of U.S. jobs data and the three-day weekend in Japan.
The 225-issue Nikkei average retreated 69.38 points, or 0.39 percent, to finish at 17,697.96, the lowest closing level since Sept. 30. On Thursday, the key market gauge plunged 423.98 points.
It is the first time since the TSE reopened in 1949 after World War II that the Nikkei has slipped for the fifth consecutive session from the beginning of a year.
The Topix index of all first-section issues finished down 10.62 points, or 0.73 percent, at 1,447.32, after sinking 30.90 points the previous day. It also extend its losing streak to a fifth day.
In the morning, Tokyo stocks fluctuated widely, with the Nikkei average briefly gaining and losing over 200 points.
After opening weaker in the wake of overnight plunges in European and U.S. equities, Tokyo stocks turned rapidly higher in the middle of the morning session as the yen weakened sharply. The dollar attracted buybacks as China raised the yuan’s reference rate against the U.S. currency, brokers said.
Investor sentiment also improved as the Shanghai stock market held relatively firm after Chinese authorities announced Thursday a decision to suspend the use of a circuit breaker system introduced this week to limit volatile stock price movements, brokers said.
Stocks, however, gave up the gains toward the close, sending the key market gauges into negative territory, as investors retreated the sidelines to see U.S. jobs data for December, due out later on Friday, and before a national holiday in Japan on Monday.
“Thanks to the hike in the yuan’s reference rate by the People’s Bank of China, investor worries about exchange rates receded,” said Hideyuki Suzuki, head of the investment market research department at SBI Securities Co.
Considering Shanghai stocks’ relative firmness despite some instability, Tokyo stocks’ weakness in the afternoon seems to reflect a shift of investor attention to the key U.S. employment data, brokers said.
“Depending on the results of the jobs data, Tokyo stocks could rebound next week,” Suzuki said.
Falling issues far outnumbered rising ones 1,466 to 377 in the TSE’s first section, while 92 issues were unchanged.
Volume increased to 2.59 billion shares from Thursday’s 2.37 billion shares.
Selling hit automakers Toyota, Honda and Fuji Heavy, mega-bank groups Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho, and mobile phone carriers SoftBank Group and KDDI.
Electronic parts makers Murata Manufacturing, Alps and TDK, all iPhone parts suppliers, lost ground following an overnight plunge in Apple in New York.
Fast Retailing fell sharply a day after the clothing store chain operator revised down its full-year earnings estimates.
By contrast, industrial robot producer Fanuc, air conditioner-maker Daikin, electronics giant Sony, chip-making equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electron and chemical products-maker Nitto Denko were buoyant.
In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key March contract on the Nikkei average rose 30 points to close at 17,690.