May 19, 2014 4:17 pm JST

Nikkei briefly falls below 14,000 for first time in five weeks

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Nikkei stock index briefly fell below the 14,000 threshold on Monday for the first time in five weeks before ending the day in the minus column for the fourth straight trading day as the yen's appreciation led to a sell-off in export-oriented shares.

     The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 90.15 points, or 0.64 percent, from Friday at 14,006.44 after hitting a low of 13,991.80 in mid-afternoon. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 9 points, or 0.78 percent, lower at 1,150.07.

     The Tokyo market staged a modest rebound at the start of the day, with buying spurred by pre-weekend rises on Wall Street and the Monday morning release of solid Japanese machinery orders data for March.

     But the upward momentum soon lost steam and the key indexes fell into minus territory, weighed down by losses in export-oriented high-tech and automaker shares following the dollar's fall to the lower 101 yen range and the euro's slide to around the 139 yen line.

     The stronger yen saps investor optimism over exporting companies' earnings outlook as it eats into their overseas profits when repatriated.

     Trading was thin as many investors were wary about making bold bets ahead of a series of key events later this week, including the Bank of Japan's two-day policy meeting starting Tuesday and U.S. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's speech on Wednesday.

     With many major Japanese firms having announced their earnings reports, investors are also expected to shift their focus to macroeconomic data at home and abroad, brokers said.

     "The market now lacks catalysts for share price rises," said Hiroaki Hiwada, strategist at Toyo Securities Co.

     The BOJ is widely expected to keep intact its current monetary easing policy at the upcoming policy meeting, but market players stuck to the sidelines to await the outcome, he said.

     Among exporters, Toyota Motor sagged 63 yen, or 1.1 percent, to 5,459 yen and Nissan Motor slipped 9 yen, or 1 percent, to 885 yen.
Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba all fell more than 1 percent.

     Leading mushroom producer Hokuto tumbled 71 yen, or 3.7 percent, to 1,842 yen after projecting its group net profit for this business year starting in April to fall 8 percent from the previous year.

     Other major decliners were rubber, steel and real estate issues.

     On the other hand, retail shares fared well following news reports that retail giant Aeon Co. plans to consolidate the operations of three supermarket chains -- Aeon's subsidiary MaxValu Kanto Co. and affiliates Maruetsu Inc. and Kasumi Co. -- by the spring of 2015 to boost competitiveness of its grocery business in Tokyo and its vicinity.

     Aeon climbed 13 yen, or 1.1 percent, to 1,205 yen, Maruetsu gained 32 yen, or 9.6 percent, to 367 yen and Kasumi went up 30 yen, or 4.3 percent, to 728 yen.

     Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones 1,266 to 437 on the First Section, while 107 closed unchanged.
Trading volume on the main section came to 1,771.73 million shares, down from Friday's 2,041.89 million shares.