Nikkei slips on profit-taking, Gree tumbles

TOKYO Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:17pm EST

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average edged lower on Wednesday as a pause in the yen's decline triggered profit-taking on exporters, while social gaming company Gree Inc (3632.T) tumbled after cutting its annual profit forecast.

The Nikkei .N225 was down 0.2 percent at 11,344.45 by the midday break, moving away from the 33-month high it hit a week earlier of 11,498.42.

"The yen's move against the dollar prompted profit-taking on exporters. The stock market is nervously eyeing the currency moves," said Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management.

Big exporter Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), the day's third most-traded stock, shed 0.8 percent while Sony Corp (6758.T), the fourth most-heavily traded, lost 5 percent.

On the foreign exchange market, the yen held firm on Wednesday, swinging sharply higher after an official from the Group of Seven said there were concerns about excessive movements in Japan's currency.

The yen had weakened initially after Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said that a G7 statement recognised that Japan's reflationary policies are not aimed at affecting foreign exchange markets.

But a G7 official later said the statement was meant to signal concerns about excessive moves in the yen, prompting a dramatic reversal in the currency.

Market analysts said the underlying mood remained positive after a U.S. Treasury official on Monday voiced support for Japan's aggressive policies to combat deflation and bolster growth.

But the market may be prone to short-term volatility until the weekend, when Group of 20 finance chiefs are scheduled to meet in Moscow.

"The Japanese market will likely stay sensitive to officials' comments until the G20 meeting this weekend. Any comments on foreign exchange could move the market," said Takuya Takahashi, an analyst at Daiwa Securities.

However, Shinkin's Fujiwara said any negative comments from the U.S., which has the significant influence in the G7, could be a serious blow to market sentiment.

While the Nikkei stayed in a narrow range, investors focused on individual stocks based on their earnings, such as Gree, which disappointed the market with poor earnings and a lower profit outlook.

Gree dropped 16.1 percent and was the eighth most-traded stock by turnover.

The broader Topix .TOPX dropped 0.2 percent to 966.52 in relatively active trade, with volume at 77 percent of its full daily average for the past 90 trading days.

"For those expecting a further weakening of the yen, it's time to take profits now," said Kyoya Okazawa, head of global equities at BNP Paribas.

The dollar last traded at 93.24 yen, down from a near 33-month high of 94.41 yen hit on Tuesday, while the euro shed more than one yen to as far as 125.00.

Investors will likely stay cautious ahead of the outcome of a Bank of Japan meeting that ends on Thursday, although many expect it hold off on any fresh easing measures until a new governor is appointed.

(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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