* Sharp rises on report of creditors considering more loans
* Komatsu and HCM fall after BHP Billiton delays project
By Dominic Lau
TOKYO, Aug 23 Japan's Nikkei average fell on
Thursday, with exporters under pressure as the yen strengthened
after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled it is likely to launch
another round of monetary stimulus "fairly soon".
The Nikkei slipped 0.6 percent to 9,077.98, on track
for a third straight day of loss, while the broader Topix
eased 0.5 percent to 758.78.
Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co,
industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp and TDK Corp
lost between 0.8 and 1.9 percent.
The yen was last traded at 78.554 yen to the dollar after
rising as much as 1.3 percent to hit a one-week high of 78.273
yen on Wednesday.
Yasuo Sakuma, portfolio manager at Bayview Asset Management,
said he expected trading would be volatile in September ahead of
the Fed's next meeting and fresh developments in Europe after
policymakers return from holidays.
With this in mind, he has been gradually cutting his long
positions, especially those in tech and raw materials sectors,
and plans to continue to lift his cash levels.
"Investors are relatively optimistic on the economy and
expectations of stimulus from China and other markets but I
can't find any catalyst to bid up the prices beyond current
levels," he said.
Mounting expectations that the European Central Bank will
soon launch a bond-buying programme to bring down borrowing
costs for highly-indebted countries like Spain and Italy have
helped the Nikkei rebound 9 pe r cent since it hit a seven-week
low on July 25.
The benchmark touched a three-month high on Monday and is up
7.4 percent so far this year.
Gainers included Sharp Corp, which advanced 3.9
percent after Japanese media said the embattled TV maker's main
creditors, Mizuho Corporate Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial
Group, are considering extending about 200 billion yen
($2.5 billion) in loans.
Short selling in Sharp remained high, with 92.05 percent of
its stock that is available to be borrowed out on loan as of Aug
21, down from a high of 92.21 percent on Aug 17, according to
data provider Markit.
Construction machinery makers Komatsu Ltd and
Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd fell 1.3 and 1.5
percent respectively after BHP Billiton shelved its
planned $20 billion Olympic Dam expansion in Australia and put
all other approvals on hold as the world's largest miner battles
escalating development costs.
Komatsu has fallen 5.5 percent this week after it was
downgraded by two brokerages earlier in the week, while Hitachi
Construction Machinery has lost 6.5 percent.