Nikkei slips to new 6-month low on Wall St slide, Ukraine jitters

Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:49pm EDT

* Nikkei drops 0.1 pct, Topix up 0.5 pct in choppy trade
    * Investors nervous after renewed weakness on Wall St
    * Dip-buying in Toyota and other large-caps supports
    * Sharp tumbles on newspaper report of new share issue

    By Tomo Uetake
    TOKYO, April 14 (Reuters) - Tokyo stocks slipped to a fresh
six-month low on Monday as market sentiment stayed fragile after
a rocky session on Wall Street and on escalating tensions in
Ukraine.
    Bargain hunting in large caps like Toyota Motor Corp
 offered some support and helped the benchmark Nikkei
trim earlier losses.
    The Nikkei average was down 0.1 percent at 13,944.43
at the midday break after falling as low as 13,885.22, its
lowest level since Oct. 9. It is down 15 percent so far this
year.
    The index shed 7.3 percent last week, its biggest weekly
fall since the week after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
    Last week's slide has made some large caps relatively cheap,
with Toyota now trading at below 10 times its earnings. Some
technical indicators also signalled a chance of short-term
rebound, with the Nikkei's 14-day relative strength index near
30, which marks oversold territory.
    "Dip-buying in some large-cap stocks is supporting the
market," said Yasuo Sakuma, portfolio manager at Bayview Asset
Management.
    Toyota jumped 3.3 percent and was the second-most bought
stock on the main board. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
 gained 2.3 percent.
    The Topix Core 30, which consists of large-cap
shares, rose 0.8 percent, led by gains in banks.
    "However, it doesn't mean the market is turning bullish.
There appears to be selling in mid- and small-cap stocks from
long-only mutual funds. Many market players are sitting on the
sidelines for now, waiting for cues from annual earnings
guidance," Sakuma added.
    Japanese companies are due to report earnings later this
month.
    Indeed, the overall market mood was bleak after Wall Street
stocks slid on Friday, with biotech and other "momentum" stocks
again leading the Nasdaq sharply lower and weak results from
JPMorgan dragging down banks. 
    Rising tensions in Ukraine also weighed on global investor
sentiment. Ukraine has given pro-Russian separatists a Monday
morning deadline to disarm or face a "full-scale anti-terrorist
operation" by its armed forces, raising the risk of a military
confrontation with Moscow. 
    Still, many market players were hopeful that Japanese
shares' relatively cheap valuations and expectations of more
easing by the Bank of Japan would eventually support the market.
    "It seems like the notorious 'Sell in May (and go away)'
season arrived early this year, suggesting that the summer rally
may begin earlier than July," said Masatoshi Kikuchi, pan-Asian
chief equity strategist at Mizuho Securities.
    Other notable movers included Sharp Corp, which
fell as much as 10 percent and hit a five-month low. The Asahi
newspaper said Sharp, Japan's largest display maker, is
considering another issue of new shares that could raise around
200 billion yen ($2 billion) to replenish its depleted capital
base. 
    The broader Topix gained 0.5 percent to 1,139.41 in
thin trade, with trading volume at 30 percent of the full daily
average for the past 90 days.
    The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, a recently introduced
gauge comprised of companies with a high return on equity and
robust corporate governance, rose 0.4 percent to 10,368.85.
($1 = 101.6400 Japanese Yen)

 (Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Chris Gallagher)