April 2, 2013 / 5:35 AM / in 5 years

Nikkei pares sharp losses on bargain-hunting

* Topix slips 0.3 pct to trade below 1,000
    * Exporters suffer after weak U.S. factory data
    * Real estate firms gain ahead of BOJ meeting this week

    TOKYO, April 2 (Reuters) - The Nikkei stock average pared
earlier steep losses on Tuesday to regain the 12,000-mark as
bargain-hunting investors bet that the Bank of Japan will pull
the country out of its economic doldrums.
    The Nikkei lost 0.7 percent to 12,053.35 in
afternoon trade, after falling as much as 2.7 percent earlier in
the session to below the 12,000-mark for the first time in three
weeks, with exporters like Canon Inc taking a beating
after weak U.S. factory data raised concerns about the U.S.
    "People were looking for excuse to take profits," a sales
trader in Tokyo said. "Everybody is saying if we are in a
constructive bull market then you actually buy back on dips.
That actually happened today."
    Real estate and financial companies, which benefit from the
government's drive to reflate the economy, were in demand.
    Real estate investment fund Kenedix Inc jumped 14.5
percent and was the most-traded stock on the main board by
turnover, while lenders Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group,
Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial
Group gained between 2.3 and 2.6 percent.
    The BOJ is expected to announce new monetary expansion
measures after its two-day meeting ends on April 4.
    The benchmark Nikkei rallied 19.3 percent in January-March,
its best quarterly performance in nearly four years, after Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe embarked on expansionary fiscal and monetary
policies to revive the economy.
    However, exporters, which have rallied in recent months on
the back of the yen's weakness, remained on the back foot.
    Canon, Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co 
and TDK Corp were down between 1.8 and 2.7 percent.
    The broader Topix index eased 0.3 percent to 998.04,
falling below the 1,000-mark for the first time in nearly four
weeks. The Topix sank 3.3 percent on Monday, its biggest one-day
percentage fall in two years.   
    "The first-quarter performance was quite good, so investors
want to take profit ... I am not worried about it too much,"
said Hisao Matsuura, an equity strategist at Nomura Securities. 
    He said he expected the Nikkei to test 13,000 by the end of
June as the economy was likely to improve while the BOJ kept its
stimulus tap open.

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