Nikkei edges down as U.S. cues awaited, brewers slide

Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:22pm EST

* Retail investors seen taking profits on recent gains
    * Brewers Sapporo, Asahi slide on weak profit outlooks
    * Calsonic Kansei bucks weakness on forecast hike

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average edged down
on Thursday after hitting a 1-1/2 week high the previous day as
investors awaited more U.S. economic data, while brewers like
Sapporo Holdings fell on lacklustre profit forecasts.
    The Nikkei was down 0.4 percent at 14,737.57 in
midmorning trade, following a three-day winning streak. On
Wednesday it had risen to 14,800.06, its highest close since
Jan. 31.
    Analysts said that the Nikkei faced resistance at the
psychologically key 15,000-line and that it could trade above
that level if U.S. data, such as retail sales due later on
Thursday, cheer investors.
    "Foreign investors need more macro catalysts to chase the
market higher so they're staying on the sidelines. On the other
hand, retail investors are taking profits from recent gains,"
said Jun Yunoki, a strategist at Nomura Securities.
    According to data compiled by Yunoki using figures released
by the Tokyo and Nagoya stock exchanges, retail investors bought
620 billion yen ($6 billion) worth of shares on the two bourses
in the week of Jan. 27, the highest since October 1987.
    "When the market is falling, dips can create buying
opportunities for retail investors," he said.
    The Nikkei fell 7.8 percent in the last week of January.
    On Thursday, Sapporo Holdings and Asahi Group Holdings
 both slid to one-week lows, down 4.6 percent and 6.3
percent, respectively, after the brewers forecast 2014 operating
profits that missed analysts' expectations.
    Exporters were weak as the depreciating yen trend stalled.
Toyota Motor Corp dropped 1.3 percent, Honda Motor Co
 fell 1.1 percent and Nikon Corp shed 0.8
percent.
    But Calsonic Kansei Corp jumped 6.1 percent to 539
yen, its highest since Jan. 23, after the auto parts maker
raised its annual net profit outlook by 29 percent.
    The broader Topix lost 0.6 percent to 1,212.50.
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, an index launched this
year comprised of firms with high return on equity and strong
corporate governance, slipped 0.6 percent to 10,954.89.