Nikkei sheds 1.6 pct to below 9,000, many firms trade ex-div

Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:19pm EDT

* About 55 pct of Topix companies go ex-dividend
    * Nikkei falls to two-week low
    * Semi-related firms suffer as Infineon sees weaker Q4

    By Dominic Lau
    TOKYO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average shed 1.6
percent to below the key 9,000-mark on Wednesday as a raft of
companies went ex-dividend, while concerns over whether
debt-laden Spain will seek a bailout also dampened sentiment.
    About 55 percent of Topix companies have passed the
deadline for buyers of the stocks to get rights to first-half
dividends.
    The Nikkei dropped 142.37 points to 8,949.17,
hitting a two-week low and breaking below its 25-day moving
average at 8,985.54.
        Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co and
Honda Motor Co were among the companies trading
ex-dividend, down between 1.5 and 4.1 percent.
    The Asahi newspaper said Toyota has indicated to its main
parts makers that it plans to halt car production in China
during October as anti-Japanese sentiment in the country hurts
demand.
    Nissan said it would suspend car production at its Chinese
joint venture from Sept. 27, three days earlier than a scheduled
holiday from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7.
    A senior dealer at a foreign brokerage said the production
halt was positive for the carmakers as they could run down their
excess inventories.
    "The fact that these guys have a nice excuse to cut down
production in China where they are running what could be argued
as being slightly excessive inventory levels is good news to the
companies," he said.
    China-related companies have been taken a battering on
concerns over faltering Chinese growth, while anti-Japanese
sentiment in the country arising from a territorial dispute,
could add to their difficulties. 
    The Nikkei China 50, made up of Japanese firms with
heavy exposure to the world's second largest economy, shed 2.3
percent.
    Construction machinery maker Komatsu Ltd and
Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd, whose fortunes
are closely tied to China and global growth, eased 2 and 2.9
percent, respectively. Their U.S. rival Caterpillar Inc,
the world's largest earth-moving equipment maker, cut its 2015
earnings outlook on Monday.
    Sluggish global growth, even though the U.S. Federal Reserve
launched another round of stimulus, are biting into company
earnings. The Nikkei is down 0.6 percent this quarter, which
ends this week.
    On Tuesday, German chipmaker Infineon Technologies
 said sales and profits would fall more than
previously expected in forthcoming quarters. 
    The news weighed on Japanese semiconductor-related firms,
with Advantest Corp, Tokyo Electron Ltd,
Shinko Electric Industries Co Ltd and Dainippon Screen
Manufacturing Co Ltd off between 3 and 3.9 percent. 
    The broader Topix index lost 1.6 percent to 745.38.
    "European troubles are of course in focus, but relatively
stable exchange rates are underpinning stocks. Some investors
could also be buyers for window-dressing purposes as this is the
last trading week of the quarter, but more of that buying might
emerge later in the week," said Kenichi Hirano, operating
officer at Tachibana Securities.
    Protesters clashed with police in Spain's capital on Tuesday
as the government prepared a new round of unpopular austerity
measures for the 2013 budget to be announced on Thursday.
    Spain is at the centre of the euro zone debt crisis on
concerns the government cannot control its finances and those of
highly-indebted regions, bitten by a second recession since 2009
that has put one in four workers out of work.