August 30, 2013 / 2:26 AM / 4 years ago

Oil shares lead Nikkei down as Syria concerns abate

* Nikkei heads towards first weekly decline in three weeks
    * Oil stocks lose ground on falling oil futures
    * Investors focused on many events in September - analyst

    By Ayai Tomisawa
    TOKYO, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average edged
down on Friday in choppy trade and was on track to end both the
week and month lower, with losses on the day led by oil shares
as investors pared back the risk of an imminent U.S.-led
military strike on Syria.
    The Nikkei was down 0.3 percent to 13,417.15 in
mid-morning trade, after earlier being up 0.3 percent. 
    So far, the index has fallen 1.5 percent this week and is
posed to post its the first weekly fall in three weeks. It is
also down around 2 percent for the month and set to post a
fourth successive monthly fall.
    Oil-related shares Inpex Corp dropped 2.8 percent,
while Japan Petroleum Exploration shed 2.3 percent,
weighed down by falls in oil futures as a military strike on
Syria appeared less likely.
    Panasonic Corp rose 5.3 percent to a 3 1/2-week
high after saying it would resume paying dividends for the first
time in a year and a half.
    Data on Friday showed core consumer prices rose an annual
0.7 percent in July, the biggest increase in nearly five years
boding well for the central bank's efforts to eradicate
deflation and offering support to the market.
    "The country is not out of deflation yet, but the CPI needs
to stay high to implement a consumer tax hike, so in that sense
the result was positive to the market, so investors covered
their short positions after the data," said a fund manager at a
Japanese asset management firm.
    Analysts said trading would likely stay choppy and thin on
the last trading day of the month. Investors were expected to
remain wary of more outflows from emerging markets on
expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve could start winding back
its stimulus as soon as next month.
    "If investors sell emerging countries' currencies and buy
safe-haven yen, it will hurt Japan's exporters shares, so we may
have to brace for that possibility. Concerns on Syria have not
faded completely, either," said Masanaga Kono, senior strategist
at Amundi Japan. 
    On Friday, exporters were mixed, with Sony Corp 
rising 0.7 percent, Nissan Motor Co and Toyota Motor
Corp shedding 0.2 percent.
    The dollar rose to 98.37 yen from Thursday's low of
    Hiromichi Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities,
said that the Nikkei could head higher in September depending on
two big decisions: how the government proceeds with a planned
sales tax increase and whether Tokyo wins the right to host the
2020 Summer Olympics at a vote on Sept. 7.

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