Business News

Nikkei edges lower after hitting 4-month high; U.S. jobs data limits downside

* Financials, exporters fall on profit-taking

* Mining shares stage rally after oil prices rose to 5-month highs

* Yaskawa Electric’s earnings focused this week

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, April 8 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei edged lower on Monday morning as investors were cautious ahead of the earnings season, though better-than-expected U.S. job growth in March limited the downside.

The Nikkei share average eased 0.1 percent to 21,789.34 at the midday break, after opening a tad higher and rising to 21,900.55, the highest point since early December.

In the United States, the Labor Department said nonfarm payrolls rose by 196,000 jobs in March, topping the 180,000 new jobs forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

In Tokyo, investors took some money off the table from recent gainers such as financial stocks and exporters.

“As the Nikkei topped its March high (of 21,860), profit-taking kicked in,” said Ryohei Yoshida, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

He said the absence of any significant moves on the benchmark index was somewhat expected as the Nikkei futures ended at 21,850 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday.

“Investors are becoming sensitive to dollar-yen levels too, as Japanese companies will be reporting their earnings and forecasts soon,” Yoshida said.

Factory automation equipment maker Yaskawa Electric is scheduled to report its annual earnings results on Thursday,

Financial stocks, which had risen recently, were down, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group falling 1.2 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group shedding 1.1 percent and Dai-ichi Life Holdings sliding 1.5 percent.

Chip equipment makers were also in the red, with Tokyo Electron shedding 1.4 percent and Shin-Etsu Chemical slipping 1.2 percent.

Conversely, mining shares attracted buyers after oil prices rose to five-month highs on OPEC’s ongoing supply cuts as well as U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.

Inpex Corp rose 1.7 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co gained 0.8 percent.

Elsewhere, Aeon Co tumbled 3 percent after the company cut its net profit outlook for the year through February to 23.6 billion yen from 35 billion yen as sales were dragged down by natural disasters last year.

The broader Topix dropped 0.3 percent to 1,620.25. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)


Prakash Poojary
Business Analyst

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