March 8, 2017 / 3:01 AM / 2 years ago

Nikkei eases for fourth day, U.S. jobs data in focus

* Nintendo most traded stock by turnover on strong Switch sales

* Nikkei Jasdaq rises for 19th day

By Ayai Tomisawa

TOKYO, March 8 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average eased slightly for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday, as investors took caution ahead of the U.S. jobs report due at the end of the week.

The Nikkei dropped 0.5 percent to 19,240.95 points in midmorning trade.

“With U.S. jobs data and the Fed policy meeting scheduled ahead, it’s hard to take large positions now,” said Kazuhiro Takahashi, an equity strategist at Daiwa Securities.

“Investors have priced in a U.S. rate hike, and they are waiting for the big event to be over.”

Following last week’s remarks from Federal Reserve officials including Fed Chair Janet Yellen, the market is expecting the Fed will raise interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point at is policy meeting on March 14-15.

In Wall Street overnight, pharmaceutical stocks came under pressure after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted he was working on a “new system” to reduce drug prices in the industry, without providing details.

Trump’s comments also pressured Japanese pharmaceutical stocks with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd dropping 1.0 percent, Ono Pharmaceutical Co Ltd shedding 1.4 percent, and Eisai Co Ltd declining 1.4 percent.

On the other hand, Nintendo Co Ltd rose 2.6 percent to a near two-month high to be the most traded stock by turnover. Shares surged after Japanese game magazine Famitsu reported that Switch, a hybrid home console and handheld device that Nintendo released on March 3, had sold an estimated 330,637 units in the first three days.

The broader Topix dropped 0.5 percent to 1,548.09 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 fell 0.5 percent to 13,853.96.

Meanwhile, buying continued to fuel small cap stocks.

The Nikkei Jasdaq index rose for the 19th straight day. Animation content provider Broccoli Co Ltd surged 3.8 percent, while online job information provider En-Japan Inc gained 2.1 percent. (Editing by Randy Fabi)

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