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Tokyo stocks drop for fourth day as yen rapidly rises

JIJI

Stocks extended their losing streak to a fourth session on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday, dragged down by a wave of selling due to the yen’s rapid appreciation against the dollar.

The 225-issue Nikkei average dropped 211.57 points, or 1.25 percent, to end at 16,724.81. On Thursday, the key market gauge lost 38.07 points.

The Topic index of all first-section issues slumped 13.92 points, or 1.02 percent, to 1,345.05, after falling 1.53 points the previous day.

A wide range of issues came under massive selling after the yen strengthened steeply against the dollar.

The dollar’s midmorning fall below ¥111 intensified worries about dismal earnings at export-oriented companies, pushing the Nikkei average down over 300 points briefly.

In the afternoon, the Tokyo market become increasingly stalemated, with investors retreating to the sidelines ahead of the three-day weekend here, brokers said. The market will be closed Monday for a national holiday.

Positive incentives, such as Wall Street’s rise and higher crude oil prices, were more than offset by the sharp rise of the yen, an official at a bank-affiliated brokerage firm said.

Stock prices were also dampened by position-adjustment selling and profit-taking prior to the long weekend, brokers said.

Nevertheless, in the afternoon, “the market attracted some buybacks of issues that had been oversold in the morning,” said Tomoaki Fujii, head of the corporate research division at Takagi Securities Co.

For the time being, market analysts expect the Nikkei average to stay firm at levels not far below 17,000, supported by an expected increase in buying to secure dividends before the end of fiscal 2015 this month, brokers said.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,283 to 555 in the TSE’s first section, while 108 issues were unchanged.

Volume rose slightly to 2.29 billion shares from Thursday’s 2.2 billion.

Rakuten fell sharply after Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities revised down its earnings forecast and stock price target for the online shopping mall operator, brokers said.

Automakers retreated amid earnings concerns stemming from the firmer yen against the dollar. Among them were Toyota, Nissan and Honda.

On the other hand, Toshiba jumped 4.28 percent, backed by active buybacks after the recent falls.

Resource-linked names, including oil companies Inpex, Idemitsu Kosan and Showa Shell, were upbeat after the key crude oil futures contract in New York recovered $40 per barrel Thursday.

In index futures trading on the Osaka Exchange, the key June contract on the Nikkei average plunged 310 points to end at 16,510.