Nikkei in sixth week of losses, Sony slides after results

TOKYO Fri May 11, 2012 3:39am EDT

A man looks at a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo May 11, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

A man looks at a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo May 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - The Nikkei share average sank below 9,000 on Friday for a sixth straight week of losses, with a choppy earnings season seeing Sony Corp (6758.T) tumbling to a 32-year-low but camera maker Nikon Corp (7731.T) and others surging on strong guidance.

Despite several big tech stocks finding favor in the market and record purchases of exchange-traded-funds by the Bank of Japan this week, overall sentiment remained bearish due to weak Chinese industrial data, a persistently strong yen and a deepening euro zone crisis.

Indeed, with the Nikkei's 0.6 percent fall, it has now given up all gains made since February14 when the Bank of Japan surprised markets with an easing in policy, which brought down the yen and boosted Tokyo stocks.

"Some companies are coming out with strong earnings, but even those whose forecasts are beating estimates will find it hard to outperform with the yen as strong as it is," said Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities.

"Europe's debt crisis is just sending investors running to the 'safe-haven' yen, which makes Japanese stocks unattractively expensive."

The Nikkei fell to 8,953.31, and was down 4.5 percent on the week. The Osaka Securities Exchange said after the close that Nikkei futures settled at 9,019.35.

The broader Topix .TOPX index slipped 0.9 percent to 758.38, a 3-1/2 month low,

Some market participants noted that the losses come after a 19 percent rally in the first quarter and the Nikkei is still up 6 percent for the year to date.

"The market isn't strong at the moment, but considering what's going on in the rest of the world, there's no sign of unease," said Hiroyuki Mutsuro, head of execution support in equities at Mizuho Securities.

Sony Corp (6758.T) shed 6.4 percent, a day after it posted a record annual loss of $5.7 billion and failed to convince investors that it has a sound strategy to turn around its loss-making TV business and boost smartphone sales.

"There is really nothing in there that can justify buying the stock," said a trader at a U.S. bank said.

"You see the loss narrowing in the TV business. That's fine, but I don't see any future in the TV business, so it doesn't matter what they do."

Some stocks, particularly companies that have recovered from supply disruptions caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and floods in Thailand, bucked the trend.

Market analysts said buying on dips could emerge next week when the Nikkei is expected to test support levels like 8,800 - the level at which it was trading before February 14.

Nikon surged 8.6 percent after the camera maker's operating profit for the past financial year beat its own forecast, with a dealer saying the company's guidance looked very conservative.

Konica Minolta Holdings (4902.T) and Hitachi also beat forecasts, putting on 3 percent and 3.5 percent respectively.

Drugmaker Eisai Co Ltd (4523.T) advanced 1.8 percent after U.S. regulators approved an experimental obesity pill it is developing with Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc ARNA.0.

The energy sector .IEPNG.T suffered a loss of 1.7 percent after Moody's Investors Service downgraded the long-term credit ratings of seven Japanese electric power companies.

(Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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