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Tokyo stocks fall further on yen’s rise

JIJI

Stocks lost further ground Tuesday, dragged down by the yen’s rise against the dollar.

The Nikkei 225 average lost 137.94 points, or 0.65 percent, to end at 21,244.68, its lowest closing level since Oct. 13. On Friday, the key market gauge plunged 508.24 points. The market was closed Monday for a national holiday.

The Topix, which covers all first-section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, closed 15.19 points, or 0.88 percent, lower at 1,716.78, a level unseen since Oct. 13. It fell 33.72 points Friday.

Stocks opened firmer with investors taking heart from gains on Wall Street on Friday and Monday, lifting the Nikkei by nearly 300 points at one point in the morning, brokers said.

But their topside grew heavy in line with the yen’s strengthening in the afternoon, sending the key market gauges deep into negative territory toward the closing.

An official of a bank-linked securities firm said that Tuesday’s retreat was caused partly by “a risk-averse mood” after stocks fell sharply last week on the Dow Jones industrial average’s biggest single-day point loss Feb. 5 and second-biggest last Thursday.

The official said buying was held in check prior to the announcements of key U.S. economic indicators, including the release set for Wednesday of consumer price data for January.

“Issues with dismal earnings results were hit by selling,” the official added.

Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., said buying on dips and buybacks after the recent tumble underpinned stocks’ downside.

“Issues with rosy earnings are seen increasingly as undervalued,” Ichikawa stressed.

Falling issues far outnumbered rising ones 1,366 to 629 in the first section, while 70 issues were unchanged.

Volume fell to 1.962 billion shares from 2.137 billion Friday.

NTT lost 4.36 percent as its operating profit in April-December, announced Friday, fell short of market expectations, brokers said.

Other major losers included semiconductor maker Renesas Electronics, automaker Toyota and clothing retailer Fast Retailing.

By contrast, Lion rose 7.56 percent after the household products maker on Friday released a brisk operating profit forecast for the year, brokers said.

Also on the plus side were textile producer Toray and optical equipment maker Olympus.