Nikkei flat in choppy trade; Ukraine tension saps risk appetite

Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:07pm EST

* Stronger yen also sours risk appetite - analyst
    * Foster Electric tumbles on forecast cut

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average was
flat in choppy trade on Friday morning after two days of losses
as investors remained cautious amid tensions in Ukraine, while a
stronger yen weighed on risk appetite.
    The Nikkei was flat at 14,923.24 in midmorning trade
after earlier falling as low as 14,853.85. It dropped 0.3
percent the previous day.
    The benchmark on Tuesday had risen to 15,051.60 - its
highest closing level since Jan. 29 - but is now nearly flat on
the week. For the month it is down about 0.2 percent.
    Analysts said the Nikkei might trade in negative territory
again on Friday as investors are reluctant to hold positions
before the weekend amid the uncertain situation in Ukraine,
although strong Japanese data could limit declines.
    Japanese factory output rose in January at the fastest pace
in more than two years and core inflation hovered near a
five-year high, government data showed on Friday.
 
    "Investors are avoiding risks as they are staying cautious
about the situation in Ukraine and emerging markets' assets,"
said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa
Securities.
    But he added that optimism about the Japanese economy will
likely support the mood, and that there are expectations in the
longer term that the Bank of Japan may ease monetary policy
further if the April sales tax increase hits the economy.
    Exporters were lower, with Toyota Motor Corp 
shedding 1.1 percent and Honda Motor Co falling 0.9
percent.
    Foster Electric Co tumbled 15 percent to an
eight-month low after the company slashed its annual net profit
outlook by nearly half, to 2.6 billion yen ($25.5 million).
    But Sony Corp bucked the weakness and rose 1.4
percent after Citigroup raised its rating to "buy" from
"neutral", citing bigger-than-expected growth in its gaming
business and hopes that its smartphone strategy will succeed in
the United States.
    The dollar stood at 102.09 yen after hitting a low of
101.72 yen on Thursday due to jitters over possible Russian
intervention in Ukraine. 
    The broader Topix index slipped 0.4 percent to
1,211.88.
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, an index launched this
year comprising firms with high return on equity and strong
corporate governance, dropped 0.4 percent to 10,966.19.
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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