Nikkei ends at 2-week low on Wall St. losses, before holiday
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Nikkei stock index hit a two-week closing low Monday as investors cut their holdings following losses on Wall Street and ahead of a Japanese national holiday on Tuesday.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 141.03 points, or 0.98 percent, from Friday at 14,288.23, its lowest finish since April 15. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 9.25 points, or 0.79 percent, lower at 1,160.74.
A wide range of shares came under selling pressure, with sentiment undermined by Friday's falls in U.S. shares amid concerns about rising tensions in Ukraine.
The Nikkei lost more than 200 points in the early morning. But once an initial round of selling ran its course, the index resisted further downward pressure and hovered slightly above the day's low for the rest of the day.
Overall, trading activity remained light as investors refrained from making bold moves ahead of the Japanese holiday and key financial events later this week, including the outcomes of policy meetings of the Bank of Japan and the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday, and U.S. jobs data due out Friday.
"We're in the middle of holidays and it is hard to see buying right now," said Toshikazu Horiuchi, equity strategist at IwaiCosmo Securities Co.
Horiuchi said the crisis in Ukraine remains worrisome, but if there are no major new developments there U.S. macro economic data should draw market attention as good readings could provide a catalyst for recently battered Japanese shares to bounce back by leading the yen lower against the dollar.
The BOJ is widely expected to keep its monetary policy intact while the Fed will likely continue tapering its massive bond-buying stimulus at their upcoming policy meetings, said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Inc. "So any lip service from the BOJ would be a surprise," he said.
Among companies announcing dismal earnings, Japan Display plummeted 127 yen, or 15.9 percent, to 672 yen after cutting its profit estimates for fiscal 2013, which ended in March. The liquid crystal displays maker, formed in April 2012 by integrating the LCD businesses of Hitachi Ltd., Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp., made its debut on the Tokyo bourse in March.
Honda Motor set a fresh year-to-date low of 3,292 yen during the day as its earnings forecast for this fiscal year undershot market expectations. The stock ended lower by 155 yen, or 4.5 percent, at 3,315 yen.
Bucking the trend, NTT Docomo gained 58 yen, or 3.7 percent, to 1,631 yen after saying it will buy back up to 320 million shares, or 7.72 percent of its outstanding shares, for 500 billion yen.
Numerical control equipment maker Fanuc gained 70 yen, or 0.4 percent, to 18,450 yen after saying it expects a 32 percent surge in its group net profit for the current 2014 business year.
Other major decliners were those in the paper and pulp, glass, and automaker sectors.
Declining issues led advancing ones 1,263 to 447 on the First Section, while 98 closed unchanged.
Trading volume on the main section came to 1,745.73 million shares, down from Friday's 2,054.52 million shares.
Japanese financial markets will be closed on Tuesday for a public holiday.