* Nikkei slips 0.2 pct, Topix ends flat
* Hitachi Cable jumps 18.7 pct, to merge with Hitachi Metals
By Dominic Lau
TOKYO, Nov 13 Japan's Nikkei average fell for a
seventh straight session on Tuesday, its longest losing streak
in seven months, on fears that the U.S. fiscal problem may tip
the world's largest economy into recession.
Adding to the concerns, the euro zone and the International
Monetary Fund were at odds over a longer-term plan to reduce
Greece's debt, preventing disbursement of immediate aid to
Exporters, whose fortunes are largely tied to the health of
the global economy, suffered, with Toshiba Corp, Nikon
Corp, Canon Inc and construction machinery
maker Komatsu Ltd down between 0.5 and 2.2 percent.
A stronger yen also added to the pressure on exporters, with
the Japanese currency trading at 79.28 to the dollar, not far
from a three-week high of 79.07 hit on Friday. The yen also
touched a five-week high 100.42 yen to the euro on Tuesday.
The Nikkei slipped 0.2 percent to 8,661.05 points,
hitting a four-week closing low for the third day in a row. It
has lost 4.3 percent during its longest daily losing streak
The benchmark is still up 2.4 percent so far this year but
lags behind a 9.7 percent rise in the U.S. S&P 500 and a
10.2 percent gain in the pan-European STOXX Europe 600.
Gains in a number of machinery makers on short-covering and
a near 6 percent jump in Olympus Corp after it reported
first-half earnings offered some support to the market.
A trader at a foreign bank said investors remained focused
on the negative impact of the so-called 'fiscal cliff' in the
United States, a series of spending cuts and tax increases that
will take effect in the new year.
"Rising taxes in principle is a drag on growth ... People
here still are looking at the negatives more than the positives.
It's very hard to get a positive vibe into the market," he said.
"We are again moving away from the 80 (yen to the dollar)
handle. Again, it's very negative for exporters ... a lot of
profit taking in exporters."
The trader added company quarterly earnings had also been
weak, giving investors few reason to take any big positions.
About 58 of the 145 Nikkei companies that have so far
reported quarterly earnings undershot market expectations, data
from Thomson Reuters StarMine showed. That compared with 54
percent in the previous quarter.
WEAK EARNINGS SEASON
Many companies have also cut their earnings outlooks amid
sluggish global growth. Among them were general contractor
Shimizu Corp, which shed 5.4 percent on Tuesday.
Engineering firm JGC Corp lost 2.3 percent after it
reported its first-half earnings, which a dealer described as
But Olympus climbed as its key endoscope business rebounded
in North America in September and its full-year earnings cut was
in line with market expectations.
The broader Topix was flat at 722.56 in relatively
light trade, with 1.5 billion shares changing hands, down from
last week's average of 1.59 billion but up from a 10-week low of
1.26 billion shares reached on Monday.
"There are signs that the U.S. economy is recovering, and if
upcoming U.S. data gives hope to the market we may see more
rises as the underlying worries are whether the U.S. economy is
recovering or not," said Takashi Ito, equity market strategist
at Nomura Securities.
Hitachi Cable Ltd was also in demand, surging 18.7
percent to a near three-month closing high after the company,
which the Nikkei newspaper said is bracing for the fifth
consecutive year of net losses, and Hitachi Metals Ltd
said they will merge in April.
Hitachi Metals shed 8.2 percent, while Hitachi Ltd,
the parent of the both Hitachi Cable and Hitachi Metals, added