May 21, 2013 / 1:20 AM / 5 years ago

Nikkei slips from 5-1/2-year high as yen weakness put on hold

* Sony Financial falls after earnings guidance disappoints
    * SoftBank slips, Sprint permitted discussions with Dish

    By Dominic Lau
    TOKYO, May 21 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei average eased from
a 5-1/2-year high on Tuesday after Wall Street gave up earlier
gains to end flat and the dollar slipped against the yen on
caution before U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke fronts
a Congressional hearing. 
    The Nikkei slipped 0.2 percent to 15,337.42. The
benchmark has rallied 47.5 percent this year, and it has risen 8
percent since May 9, when the dollar broke above the 100-yen
mark. 
    "There is a little bit of profit-taking. There was a little
bit of weakness in the U.S.," said a senior dealer at a foreign
brokerage, noting that the underlying tone of the market
remained firm.
    U.S. stocks ended little changed on Monday, with indexes
hovering near record levels as concerns about a correction wiped
out earlier gains made on a flurry of acquisitions.
    The Bank of Japan is expected to stand pat on monetary
policy when it concludes a two-day meeting on Wednesday, but it
may seek ways to calm the bond market over the recent volatility
it has experienced. 
    Bernanke's testimony in Congress on Wednesday was also a
focus for global financial markets after recent comments by Fed
officials drove speculation the U.S. central bank could trim its
asset purchase programme sooner than first thought. 
    The yen last traded at 102.47 yen to the dollar on
Tuesday, rebounding from a 4-1/2-year low of 103.32 hit on
Friday.
    But there are signs that many firms in export-driven Japan
Inc, having got the weaker yen they craved, now want the
currency to either stabilise or recover ground, rather than
continue a slide that will increasingly raise their costs.
 
    The broader Topix index was flat at 1,269.77.
    SoftBank Corp lost 1.6 percent. U.S. wireless
operator Sprint Nextel Corp said it has received a waiver
from SoftBank allowing it to engage with Dish Network Corp
 in discussions over a proposed offer, although Sprint
said its recommendation in favour of the SoftBank offer has not
changed.
    Sony Financial Holdings Inc dropped 2.7 percent
after it forecast a net income of 37 billion yen for the current
business ending March 2014, below an average of 43.05 billion
yen from 11 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.        
    In terms of valuations, Japanese equities carry a 12-month
forward price-to-earnings ratio of 15.9, a level not seen since
May 2010 but still below its 10-year average of 16.3, according
to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

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