Japan stocks fall; banks, steel lose early gains

Japan stocks fall; banks, steel lose early gains


Late morning update

Tokyo: Japanese stocks extended losses for the sixth day after banks including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group failed to sustain earlier gains as investors were quick to book profit amid thin trade.

Chip-related firms such as Advantest Corp and Tokyo Electron Ltd were among stocks dragging down the market after they fell on weak order data.

The benchmark Nikkei ended the session down 1.2% at 15,030.51 and the broader Topix fell 0.9% to 1,456.79. Reuters


Tokyo: Japanese share prices rose slightly in morning trade on Wednesday, 19 December, following an overnight rally on Wall Street as central banks continued efforts to ease a credit squeeze, dealers said.

But they said investors were cautious ahead of earning results from US investment banks amid jitters about subprime loan related losses, even though Goldman Sachs unveiled better-than-expected profits.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index gained 6.39 points or 0.04% to 15,214.25 by the lunch break.

The Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 5.30 points or 0.36% to 1,475.07.

But decliners outnumbered gainers 896 to 673, with 153 issues unchanged.

Turnover declined to 801 million shares from 951 million Tuesday morning.

US stocks rose Tuesday with investors encouraged by the $500-billion loan issuance by the European Central Bank (ECB) and strong profit growth at Goldman Sachs despite the subprime loan crisis, dealers said.

Investors were waiting for a Japanese interest rate decision due on Thursday although no change was expected, dealers said.

Among stocks in focus, Matsushita Electric Industrial dropped five yen or 0.2% to 2,245, while Hitachi gained seven yen or 0.9% to 791 and Canon added 40 yen or 0.7% to 5,470.

The Nikkei business daily reported, without citing sources, that the three companies are in the final stages of negotiations to form a tie-up in the OEL (organic electroluminescence) panel business.

Steel companies were higher. Nippon Steel won 18 yen or 2.9% to 634, Sumitomo Metal Industries firmed 13 yen or 2.9% to 464 and Kobe Steel advanced eight yen or 2.3% to 350.

The three companies have reached a basic agreement to increase their equity stakes in one another, the Nikkei said.

NTT DoCoMo was up 3,000 yen or 1.7% at 179,000 after the same newspaper said Japan’s largest cell phone operator had started negotiations with Apple for the rights to market the iPhone in Japan. AFP