* Investors unwind Nikkei long positions and yen short
positions - broker
* Nikkei's support seen at 14,000 if benchmark breaches
futures settlement price - traders
* Metal shares take another hit after copper price hurt on
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, March 14 Japanese stocks skidded 2.7
percent to a one-month low on Friday morning as concerns over
Ukraine and slowing growth in China rattled investors,
underpinning the safe-haven yen and hurting exporters.
The Nikkei share average fell 395.04 points to 14,420.94 in
mid-morning trade after dropping to a low of 14,408.62 earlier,
the weakest since Feb. 17.
"Investors are unwinding their long positions in the Nikkei
and short positions in the yen," said Kyoya Okazawa, head of
global equities and commodity derivatives at BNP Paribas.
"Short-term sellers like commodity trading advisors are also big
players today and they are also reacting to the falling copper
On Thursday, copper resumed its decline on the London Metal
Exchange after a brief recovery on the previous day. It hit a
44-month low on Wednesday.
Nonferrous metal shares, which have been hit over the past
few sessions, extended their declines. Dowa Holdings
dropped 3.0 percent to a nine-month low of 807 yen, and Sumitomo
Metal Mining shed 2.0 percent to a five-week low of
Traders said investors remained risk-averse amid the
backdrop of troubles in Ukraine and soft data in China, adding
that the benchmark Nikkei would likely target support at 14,000
if it breaches Friday's futures and options settlement price of
Market participants, citing estimates by local brokerages,
said that Nikkei futures and options contracts expiring in March
likely settled at 14,429.87. The official settlement price will
be announced by the Osaka Securities Exchange after the market
Markets remained nervous on rising tensions in Ukraine after
Russia launched military exercises near its border with
Index heavyweight stocks led the declines. SoftBank Corp
fell 1.8 percent and was the most trade stock by
turnover, while Fast Retailing Co declined 2.7 percent
and was the second-most traded stock.
Exporters were also battered after the dollar/yen hit the
lowest in over a week at 101.83 yen. A weak yen hurts
Japanese exporters' competitiveness abroad as well as their
dollar earnings when repatriated.
Toyota Motor Corp slid 2.3 percent, Nikon Corp
tumbled 4.1 percent and Tokyo Electron Ltd
shed 4.2 percent.
The Topix dropped 2.4 percent to 1,174.83, with all
of its 33 subsectors in negative territory.
The JPX-Nikkei Index 400, a gauge comprising
firms with high return on equity and strong corporate
governance, dropped 2.4 percent to 10,624.75.