Nikkei falls 1.3 pct as profit-taking hits exporters; GS Yuasa tumbles

Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:14am EDT

* Exporters hit by renewed Europe worries
    * Investors lock profit ahead of financial year-end and
Easter
    * GS Yuasa tumbles on Mitsubishi Motors' battery overheating

    By Tomo Uetake
    TOKYO, March 28 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
fell to a one-week closing low on Thursday as concerns about
Italy's funding costs and the rescue deal for Cyprus prompted
investors to take profits on exporters.
    The Nikkei closed 1.3 percent lower at 12,335.96,
staying below its five-day moving average of 12,437.27 and
moving away from a 4-1/2-year high of 12,650.26 struck last
Thursday.
    "The wider market has performed fantastically this quarter,
so it's only reasonable that as it comes to the end of the
financial year and with some very pivotal concerns regarding
Europe that there is some 'happy profit-taking'," said Stefan
Worrall, director of cash equities at Credit Suisse in Tokyo.
    He said that investors were eager to take profits ahead of
Friday, which is the last trading day of the financial year in
Japan and when U.S. and European markets are closed for Good
Friday.
    Exporters with high exposure to the euro zone such as Mazda
Motor Corp and Sony Corp underperformed,
falling 3.2 percent and 3 percent, respectively, after political
uncertainty in Italy drove its borrowing costs to five-month
highs. 
    The euro last traded at 120.41 yen after dipping
to a one-month low around 119.95 yen.
    The benchmark Nikkei has gained 18.7 percent this year on
hopes for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's bold monetary and
expansionary policies, lifting exporters and reflationary stocks
such as banks and real estate companies. 
    During the period, the S&P 500 has gained 9.6
percent, and Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index has
advanced 4.4 percent.
    The broader Topix index dropped 0.9 percent to
1,036.78 with 2.98 billion shares changing hands. Last week's
average daily volume was 3.06 billion shares. 
    The marine transport sector lost 3.7 percent and
was the worst sectoral performer after the baltic dry index
 fell for a second day. 
    Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha dropped 4.8 percent, Mitsui
OSK Lines fell 4 percent and Nippon Yusen KK 
shed 3.2 percent.
    Other notable movers on Thursday included Boeing
Dreamliner's battery maker, GS Yuasa Corp, which
tumbled 11.1 percent after Mitsubishi Motors Corp said
a lithium-ion battery in its plug-in hybrid Outlander overheated
last week. The automaker sunk 3.9 percent.
    Analysts said stocks were expected to rise again after new
funds flow in to the market as the new fiscal year starts on
April 1, adding that domestic institutional investors may remain
sellers until Friday, the last day of trade this financial year.
    "We have major events to look forward to next week (in
Japan), so investors may not build large positions this week,
and worries about Europe are souring the mood," said Kenichi
Hirano, a strategist at Tachibana Securities.
    Next week, the Bank of Japan's quarterly tankan survey of
corporate sentiment is due out on Monday, while the central
bank's first policy meeting under its new leadership will be
held April 3-4.
    On Thursday, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said in the upper
house of parliament that the central bank would consider buying
longer-dated Japanese government bonds and other risk assets in
a balanced way and would continue monetary easing until the 2
percent inflation taget is achieved.
    People familiar with the BOJ's thinking told Reuters on
Wednesday that the central bank was likely to start open-ended
asset purchases immediately rather than in 2014 and consider
setting a new target to buy longer-dated bonds at next week's
meeting.