News Column

Stocks Morning UPDATE1

February 13, 2014

TOKYO, Feb. 14 -- (Kyodo) _ (EDS: ADDING INFO)

Tokyo stocks erased early gains to end Friday morning lower as investors were reluctant to chase higher ground amid a halt in the yen's depreciation and sluggish Asian stock markets.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 99.67 points, or 0.69 percent, from Thursday to 14,435.07. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 11.68 points, or 0.97 percent, at 1,188.06.

The Tokyo market opened higher as investors scooped up recently battered shares after the Nikkei dropped 265 points, or 1.8 percent, the previous day.

The key index recovered about 145 points soon after the market opening, but the upward momentum fizzled out amid a lack of fresh buying incentives, sending the index into negative territory shortly before the end of the morning session.

Brokers said investors were cautious about making bullish bets amid lingering concern over the strength of the U.S. economic recovery after U.S. retail sales fell 0.4 percent in January from the previous month, undershooting market expectations.

Also fueling concern over the U.S. labor market, data showed initial jobless claims rose more than expected last week.

"Although the cold weather conditions affected the data, it is difficult to become bullish before confirming a recovery in key economic readings," said Masashi Akutsu, equity strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

On the First Section, declining issues outnumbered advancing ones 1,359 to 319, while 101 finished the morning unchanged.

By sector, real estate, brokerage, and paper and pulp issues were notable decliners while oil and coal, insurance, and information and communication shares gained ground.

Kirin Holdings plunged 117 yen, or 8.2 percent, to 1,307 yen on disappointing earnings forecast for 2014. The beer brewer said Thursday it projects a 43 percent fall in its group net profit for 2014.

Bridgestone also faced selling following the U.S. Department of Justice's Thursday announcement that the Japanese tire maker has agreed to pay a $425 million fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices on automotive parts. The stock fell 14 yen, or 0.4 percent, to 3,691 yen.

Canon went up 3 yen, or 0.1 percent, to 3,028 yen after the Nikkei business daily reported that the company is moving to acquire U.S. cutting-edge chipmaking equipment firm Molecular Imprints Inc.

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Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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