Nikkei flat as factory data disappoints

Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:02pm EDT

* REITs tumble on profit-taking after hitting 5-year high
    * Factory data offsets positive mood after S&P's record rise
    * Sentiment remains bright for new fiscal year - analysts
    * Panasonic falls on disappointment over no job cuts

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average
ended Friday morning flat as worse-than-expected factory output
data offset positive sentiment triggered by the U.S. S&P 500
hitting a record high, while trading was subdued on the last
business day of the fiscal year.
    The Nikkei opened higher and swung into negative
territory before ending the morning session where it began at
12,331.44, 0.8 percent below its 5-day moving average of
12,435.85.
    Japan's industrial production unexpectedly fell 0.1 percent
in February from the previous month, government data showed,
compared with a median market forecast for a 2.6 percent rise.
    The Topix dropped 0.6 percent to 1,030.56.
    "The data is hurting sentiment, although the impact should
be limited and it may not last long," said Yutaka Miura, a
senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.
    He added that despite poor factory data, production is seen
recovering in the future amid a pick-up in corporate investment.
    Analysts said trading could be uneven while major foreign
markets were closed for Good Friday, but sentiment would
brighten next week with the April 1 start of the new fiscal
year.
    Worries about the European debt crisis receded as banks in
Cyprus reopened to relative calm on Thursday following the
country's controversial bailout that taxed large depositors.
    In Wall Street, the S&P 500 set a record closing high.
    "Investors' risk-off stance has receded," said Yoshiyuki
Kondo, an analyst at Daiwa Securities, but he added that
investors may not build large positions before the weekend and
on the last trading day.
    Nikon Corp gained 1.5 percent and Toyota Motor Co
 added 0.2 percent.
    However, Panasonic Corp fell 7.2 percent after the
consumer electronics maker disappointed some investors by not
announcing job cuts in its medium-term business blueprint.
 
    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. 
    BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Thursday that the
central bank would consider buying longer-dated Japanese
government bonds and other risk assets, and would continue
monetary easing until its 2 percent inflation target is
achieved.
    
    REITs TUMBLE ON PROFIT-TAKING
    The Nikkei has gained about 20 percent this year on Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe's push for bolder monetary and expansionary
policies to beat deflation and bolster growth.
    Asset-related shares such as real estate companies, REITs
and warehouse stocks, which have high asset values, have led the
gains.
    Analysts said institutional investors were sellers on
Friday, taking profits on recent gainers especially REITs and
real estate stocks.
    "REITs are popular investment funds which are expected to
rise further, so they will likely invest in them again after the
new fiscal year starts," said Hajime Nakajima, deputy general
manager at Cosmo Securities.
    The REIT index, which rose to a five-year high on
Thursday, fell 1.8 percent. Nippon Prologis REIT Inc 
shed 5.1 percent, Comforia Residential REIT Inc tumbled
6.7 percent and Nippon Accommodations Fund Inc dropped
2.5 percent.
    In the real estate sector, Mitsui Fudosan Co fell
1.1 percent and Mitsubishi Estate Co dropped 1.6
percent.
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