Business / Financial Markets | TSE DATA & REPORT

Tokyo stocks head south as investors lock in profits

JIJI

Stocks fell Monday, pressured by a wave of profit-taking selling.

The Nikkei 225 average lost 45.85 points, or 0.21 percent, to end at 21,761.65 after gaining 82.55 points Friday.

The Topix, which covers all first-section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, finished 5.61 points, or 0.35 percent, lower at 1,620.14. It rose 5.70 points Friday.

The Nikkei retook 21,900 for the first time since Dec. 5 on an intraday basis right after the opening bell. Investors took heart from Wall Street’s advance Friday on stronger than expected growth in U.S. nonfarm payrolls in March, market sources said.

But the key market gauge, as well as the Topix, soon headed south on selling to lock in profits, the sources said.

Although the Nikkei briefly returned to the sunny side late in the morning, trading was sluggish for the whole day without powerful buying incentives.

“The yen’s rise induced futures-linked selling and battered such export-oriented issues as automakers,” Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., pointed out.

Tomoaki Fujii, head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc., attributed the day’s fall to “the absence of active buyers.”

Market sentiment was underpinned by U.S. equities’ continued advance, but investors could not bid stocks up due to “uncertainties over earnings” to be released by major Japanese companies later, Fujii said.

Falling issues outnumbered rising ones 1,397 to 666 in the first section, while 77 issues were unchanged.

Volume dropped to 1.057 billion shares from 1.137 billion Friday.

All major automakers, including Honda, Toyota and Subaru, suffered losses.

Resona Holdings sank 1.83 percent on the bank group’s profit warning for the year that ended in March.

Among other major losers were auto parts supplier Denso and chipmaking gear manufacturer Tokyo Electron.

By contrast, drugstore chain operator Sugi Holdings jumped 4.85 percent following its announcement of brisk earnings for the year through February.

Also bought were optical equipment maker Olympus, cosmetics maker Shiseido and clothing store chain Fast Retailing.