October 18, 2011 / 7:25 AM / 8 years ago

Nikkei falls from 6-wk high, shaken by euro zone doubts

* Support seen around 8,689 and 25-day moving average

* Olympus plunges to new low after CEO firing

* Investors also mull U.S., Japanese earnings

* China data weighs on exporter shares

By Lisa Twaronite and Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average fell 1.6 percent in thin trade on Tuesday, slipping from a six-week high on concerns that Europe’s plan to contain its debt crisis might not be as fast and comprehensive as some investors had expected.

Shares in Olympus Corp continued to plunge in volatile trading, ending down 9 percent and having lost 43 percent of their value since it ousted its CEO, with the camera maker under pressure to disclose details of payments to advisers in the buyout of a UK-based medical equipment firm.

Exporters, which had benefited from optimism on the euro zone’s debt plan, underperformed the overall market and were also pressured by news that China’s economic expansion slowed in the third quarter to its weakest pace since early 2009.

“The China data wasn’t so bad, only slightly below expectations, but investors worried that it would be taken as a reason to sell by overseas markets later in the session, and lately the Japanese market has taken most of its cues from overseas factors,” said Masayoshi Okamoto, head of dealing at Jujiya Securities.

Germany deflated hopes for a quick end to Europe’s debt woes, when its finance minister said on Monday that a summit of EU leaders next Sunday would not produce a “definitive solution” to the region’s sovereign debt crisis.

But some strategists said that expectations for Europe’s plan could rise again as quickly as they fell.

“Stocks rallied in recent sessions on positive news from Europe and expectations of more to come, and then they corrected, but the weekend meeting could reassure investors and prompt them to buy back shares,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.

The Nikkei average closed down 1.6 percent at 8,741.91, while the broader Topix index lost 1.4 percent to 751.24. More than six shares fell for each one that rose.

Volume on the main board was 1.17 billion shares, the lowest since late December. Turnover on the main board was also the lowest since then, with Olympus accounting for one-eighth of the total.

Support for the Nikkei is seen around 8,689, a 38.2 percent retracement of its rally to Monday’s six-week closing high from its Oct. 5 low, and then at its 25-day moving average, now around 8,650.

“As long as the Nikkei stays above its 25-day moving average, I think the market’s uptrend will continue,” said Toshiyuki Kanayama, an analyst at Monex Securities, adding that he thinks the market is in a rising trend after forming a double bottom in late September to early October.

UNDER PRESSURE

Olympus continued to trade heavily, ending the morning session 1 percent higher, only to give back the gains in the afternoon and crash to a fresh 2-1/2 year low of 1,281 yen before ending at 1,417 yen.

Ousted Chief Executive Michael Woodford has accused the board of firing him for probing allegations of improper payments related to acquisitions, according to media reports.

The company told investors on Monday that it may take legal action against Woodford, accusing him of disclosing confidential information in media interviews.

Investors are also focused on this week’s U.S. corporate earnings, including those from Apple Inc , Intel Goldman Sachs and Bank of America .

Japanese companies will also release earnings beginning in the final week of October. Analysts are generally upbeat on the past quarter as companies are recovering from the damage from the earthquake and nuclear accident in March.

Still, the yen’s strength and signs of slowdown in the global economy are hurting some companies, especially exporters.

Yaskawa Electric , which cut its operating profit outlook for the year to March to 14 billion yen from 20 billion yen on the strong yen and slow sales of motors used in chipmaking equipment, saw active trade, dropping 1.6 percent to 617 yen.

KDDI Corp fell 4.3 percent to 558,000 yen, while rival Softbank shed 2.9 percent to 2,475 yen after Japanese business daily FujiSankei Business i reported that the nation’s biggest phone operator NTT DoCoMo is considering a cut of about 20 percent in its fees for smartphones.

Docomo shares fell 2.3 percent to 136,500 yen.

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