Nikkei slips after recent rapid gains, U.S. data eyed this week

Sun Dec 1, 2013 9:20pm EST

* Mazda outperforms on Credit Suisse upgrade
    * Sentiment seen staying positive as yen remains weak

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks edged down in
choppy trade on Monday morning as investors turned cautious over
the market's recent rapid pace of gains, while trading was thin
ahead of major U.S. economic data due this week.
    The Nikkei stock average was down 0.2 percent at 15,638.91
points in midmorning trade. The benchmark was trading 5.2
percent above its 25-day moving average of 14,872.71, suggesting
it has reached overbought territory in a short period of time.
    Last month, the Nikkei gained 9.3 percent on the back of
strong corporate earnings and a weaker yen. It is within sight
of a 5-1/2 year peak of 15,942.60 marked on May 23.
    "Most foreign investors are still away (for the U.S.
Thanksgiving holiday). Some hedge buying from foreign hedge
funds is seen, but they are not buying long," said Kyoya
Okazawa, head of global equities at BNP Paribas.
    Exporters were mixed, with Toyota Motor Corp flat
and Panasonic Corp falling 0.2 percent, while Sony Corp
 added 0.6 percent.
    Analysts said that going forward, sentiment was expected to
remain generally positive as the weak yen trend is seen staying
intact. The dollar rose about 0.1 percent to 102.55 yen,
moving back towards a six-month high of 102.61 yen touched on
Friday.
    A weak yen boosts exporters' competitiveness abroad and
inflates their overseas profits when repatriated.
    Mazda Motor Corp gained 2.7 percent and was the
most traded stock by turnover after Credit Suisse raised its
rating on the carmaker to "outperform" from "neutral", citing
expected strong sales of new models.
    Traders said retail investors' buying of domestic-demand
sensitive stocks like financial firms was lifting the broader
Topix, which gained 0.1 percent to 1,259.23.
    Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group gained 0.6 percent,
NKSJ Holdings added 1.1 percent and Sony Financial
Holdings added 0.7 percent.
    On the U.S. data calendar, nonfarm payrolls data for
November is scheduled for release on Friday. The Institute for
Supply Management's factory index will be released later on
Monday, and the ISM services index is due out on Wednesday.
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