TOKYO, Feb. 28 -- (Kyodo) _ (EDS: ADDING INFO)
Tokyo stocks fell for a third day Friday as sentiment was weighed by the yen's appreciation and worries over political uncertainty in Ukraine.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 82.04 points, or 0.55 percent, from Thursday at 14,841.07. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 5.69 points, or 0.47 percent, lower at 1,211.66.
Trading was choppy with the Nikkei stuck near the previous day's closing level for much of the morning session, although it temporarily popped into positive territory on the back of overnight gains on Wall Street.
The S&P 500 index closed Thursday at a record high and the 30-issue Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to a one-month high as market players took Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's remarks before a congressional committee as dovish. The figures also reflected better-than-expected U.S. durable goods orders data for January.
But selling accelerated in Tokyo in the afternoon as the euro fell to the lower 139 yen and the U.S. dollar sagged to the 101 yen range, diminishing optimism over the outlook for Japanese exporters' earnings, brokers said.
Investors remained wary about the upheaval in Ukraine following ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's statement Thursday that he still considers himself the leader of Ukraine. Overseas media reported that armed men seized the main regional airport in Simferopol, Crimea following the seizure of Crimea's regional parliament by pro-Russian gunmen.
"Rising geopolitical risks stemming from the Ukraine issue" weighed on sentiment, together with the yen's appreciation, said Ayako Terada at Nomura Securities Co.'s investment research department.
On the accelerated market downswing in the afternoon, Takuya Takahashi, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities Co., said, "Taking a cue from falls in Chinese stocks, selling by short-term players appear to have increased."
Declining issues outpaced advancing ones 1,174 to 487 on the First Section, while 122 closed unchanged.
Export-reliant automakers' shares were sluggish in light of the yen's appreciation. Toyota Motor fell 70 yen, or 1.2 percent, to 5,839 yen and Honda Motor slid 52 yen, or 1.4 percent, to 3,647 yen.
Meanwhile, Sony rose 23 yen, or 1.3 percent, to 1,780 yen after Citigroup raised its rating on the company to "buy" from "neutral." The stock's rebound also followed news that the company is planning to sell its former headquarters building in Tokyo as part of its restructuring efforts.
Foster Electric drew active selling, with its stock scoring the day's sharpest decline of 12.1 percent, after the company cut its group net profit projection for the current fiscal year by 46 percent, citing slack demand for parts used in high-end smartphones. The stock tumbled 204 yen, or 12.1 percent, to 1,483 yen.
Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industry fell 9 yen, or 1.1 percent, to 834 yen after cutting its group net profit projection for this fiscal year through March by 22 percent.
By sector, paper and pulp, banking and retail shares were among major decliners while precision machinery and mining issues added ground.
Trading volume on the main section came to 2,328.34 million shares, up from Thursday's 2,249.16 million shares.