LOS ANGELES – Japanese blue chips sat a little softer Friday morning as investors digested a large feast of economic data, with the yen [s; USDYEN] little changed from its level the previous day. The Nikkei Stock Average was down 0.2%, off its early low but nonetheless extending Thursday's 0.5% loss. The Topix fared better, however, trading flat after a brief gain. Among the top techs and industrials, Sony Corp. rose 0.3%, Panasonic Corp. added 0.2%, and Hitachi Ltd. added 1%, perhaps getting some support from its announcement of a joint nuclear-research program with three U.S. universities. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. advanced 1.8% as Japan Airlines Co. (which traded down 0.5%) said it would buy 32 of the company's Mitsubishi Regional Jet airplanes. On the downside, Fanuc Corp. fell 1.2%, Trend Micro Inc. lost 1.5%, Bridgestone Corp. gave up 0.8%, and Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. retreated 1.8%. Industrial output data released before the market open came in weaker than expected, as did consumer spending, though retail sales saw some gains. Auto makers traded mixed after the release of domestic production data Thursday. Honda Motor Co. , which upped its Japanese output for July by 28%, saw its shares rise 0.4%. Toyota Motor Corp. (Japan production down about 4%) rose 0.3%, but Nissan Motor Co. (Japan production down more than 22%) fell 0.9%. Softbank Corp. added 1.9% after the broad market retreat Thursday prevented it from profiting from strong results at China's Alibaba Group, in which Softbank owns a large stake.
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